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BREAKING FREE. Copyright © 2007 by Brian Armstrong. All rights reserved.

No
part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For
information, address Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 860 Aviation Parkway Suite 300 Morrisville,
NC 27560.

Printed in the United States of America.

This book is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the


subject of starting a business. While all of the stories and anecdotes described in the
book are based on true experiences, some of the names are pseudonyms, some
stories are compilations, and some situations have been changed slightly for
educational purposes and to protect each individual’s privacy. It is sold with the
understanding that neither the Author nor the Publisher is engaged in rendering
legal, tax, accounting, or other professional services by publishing this book. As
each individual situation is unique, questions relevant to starting a business and
specific to the individual should be addressed to an appropriate professional to
ensure that the situation has been evaluated carefully and appropriately. The Author
and Publisher specifically disclaim any liability, loss, or risk that is incurred as a
consequence, directly or indirectly, or the use and application of any of the contents
of this work.

Visit our website at www.startbreakingfree.com

ISBN 978-1-4303-0787-7

Cover Design by Angi Shearstone


Illustrations by Seema Doshi
For my Parents, without whom I never would have had
such a head start on life.
Contents

1 The First Step on the Journey 7

2 Is it Right for Me? 23

3 Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 57

4 Taking the Pay Cut 79

5 Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 99

6 What Kind of Business Should I Start? 135

7 The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 175

8 Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 205

Afterword 224

Recommended Resources 229


Chapter 1
The First Step on the
Journey

“So many fail because they don't get started - they don't go. They
don't overcome inertia. They don't begin.”
- W. Clement Stone

A WAKE UP CALL

I was on my way to a party one Friday evening when I just


happened to pass my old office building in downtown
Houston. The lights of the city were starting to come on to form the
beautiful evening skyline, and a feeling of excitement hung in the air as
people headed out on the town to release the stress of the long work
week they had just finished. As I drove past that building, I happened to
notice a huddled figure emerging from the revolving glass doors. The
logo on his oversized laptop bag was unmistakable; he worked for my
old employer. I’ll never forget the look on this man’s face as I drove by.
This was the face of an exhausted, frustrated, downtrodden person who
had just finished a long day of work. Not the kind of work he was
excited and passionate about, but the kind he had to get done because he
8 Breaking Free

didn’t want to get fired. There was a hint of shame in his step. Shame
that he was leaving the office at 9pm on a Friday. Shame that he was too
weak to say no when his boss gave him extra work that he knew he
wouldn’t have time to complete. Shame at the half hearted job he had
done on it just to get out of the office before it was completely dark
outside. Shame at the fact he would probably get home and crash on the
couch, being completely exhausted and unable to go meet his friends
who were already out having fun. Sweat glistened on his forehead and
his face looked dark and unshaven. He had showered that morning, but
that was a full twelve hours ago. His button down shirt had come un-
tucked on one side and his tie hung loosely around his neck. He pulled
the tie off the rest of the way and undid the top button of his shirt,
finally releasing the choke hold of the work day.
In this man’s face I instantly saw myself and suddenly realized
how far I had come in the past year. It had been almost exactly one year
since I’d quit the job that he was now going home from. I knew the
exact emotions and feelings going through his head as he left those doors
because I had been in his exact spot.
In the years after college I tried a number of different jobs. Like
many people, I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really know what I
wanted to do. But I had a degree, and the “right” thing to do was to go
find work. I had applied to a number of companies and, like many
people, ultimately decided to work at the company that gave me the best
offer! It’s almost funny to think about in retrospect, but this is truly how
many people decide what they will spend one-third of their life doing.
They essentially leave it up to chance and wait to see who gives them the
best offer. After being hired, I reported to work and did what I was told.
I was flooded with new information to learn, new people to meet, and
The First Step on the Journey 9

new processes to master. This was all interesting and exciting at first, but
would eventually turn out to be a suffocating experience.

SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH


THIS PICTURE...
The fun soon started to end. After learning the new material,
day to day work suddenly became mundane and repetitive (and often
pointless from what I could tell, but the bureaucracy ordered it must be
done, so it had to be done). Copy paste, copy paste, copy paste. Were
these reports I was preparing meaningful? Important? Would they even
be read? I didn’t fully understand what I was writing (pasting). What if I
was wrong? That’s what they told me to do, I guess I should do it.
Don’t think too much.
But things got worse when the long hours started. I was told by
the hiring manager that “Even though 40 hours per week is acceptable,
46 hours per week is really the minimum they expected of entry level
employees”. Was that even legal1? I briefly indulged fantasies of tape
recording the conversation and breaking the news to the authorities! But
a moment later, my boss was calling on the phone and I was back to
being a good worker bee. Some days I would just get fed up and leave
the office after eight hours, feeling guilty since I had been the last to get
in (on time) and was now the first to leave (on time).
The job started to affect other areas of my life. When I was
working those long hours, it meant I didn’t have time to do the other

1 In late 2004, a class action lawsuit was filed by the employees of Electronic Arts, the
world’s biggest third party publisher, for unpaid overtime. They claimed the company
culture required them to work evenings and weekends, and refusing to do so could put
their job in jeopardy.
10 Breaking Free

important things in my life. The first thing that started to change was my
health. After working long hours, I was often too exhausted to make it
to the gym. And simply being emotionally drained was causing me to use
junk food as self medication. “I’ve had a hard day, I deserve it”, I would
justify to myself. Even when it wasn’t junk food, it was nice restaurant
meals paid for by the company and overindulgence. There were long
breaks between meals with all the work to get done, so I was always
either starving, or stuffed and drowsy. There was no in between. Then
there was the issue of sleep. Each morning an epic battle of biblical
proportions was waged in my mind between responsibility and apathy. I
developed a love hate relationship with my snooze button. It was my
only friend, and my worst enemy at the same time. Each morning would
require several cups of coffee. It never seemed to actually wake me up,
but would instead make me jittery enough not to fall asleep. After lunch,
a siesta sounded absolutely divine, but the company didn’t share my same
views on the value of power-napping. I was so tired, I actually fell asleep
in the gym one day! I had just done a set of reps on the incline bench
press. I put down the weights, and woke up a half hour later! That was a
good day though, at least I made it to the gym. In speaking to my peers
at the company I realized I wasn’t alone. Many of them had gained 20-
30 pounds in their first year at the company. The stress, combined with
the lack of time to exercise and eat right, was a sure fire formula for
weight gain.
Then there were the relationship problems. Most of the people
I worked with struggled to stay on good terms with friends, lovers, and
spouses. Unless you wanted to date inside the company, having time for
a real relationship was difficult at best. One woman I dated told me I
was never around, and she was absolutely right. Moreover, I’m sure it
wasn’t ideal for her to date someone who was constantly exhausted,
The First Step on the Journey 11

slowly gaining weight, and didn’t like his job! I had no time for hobbies,
and no time to pursue the things I loved. I dropped out of touch with
many friends from school as my life began to revolve more and more
around work.
Many of my co-workers, like myself, had ideas of working for
themselves or starting a business some day. But when their “real job”
required all their time and then some, spending even an hour or two
extra per week on their own company was difficult. Mostly these were
pipe dreams and water cooler gossip. When it came down to it, they
were all talk. Society and conventional wisdom was telling us how lucky
we were to have such a secure high paying job. After all, there were
people out there who had to dig ditches for a living, right? “Nobody
loves their job 100% of the time” or “I’ll just do this for a few years to
get experience” would help us rationalize. But the fact was that we were
paralyzed by fear in our current occupations. Stuck in a job we didn’t
love was not a fun place to be, but it sure beat the unknown risks of a
start-up business, right?
I wasn’t the only one at the company who realized the situation
we were in. In fact, entry level colleagues like myself would constantly
complain about work. It was their favorite topic. To be fair, a small
percentage of people there truly loved what they were doing. About five
to ten percent of the employees appeared to be really passionate about
their work. They were the type of person who was born to do the job,
and woke up excited every Monday. I could tell they loved it because in
their free time they would read up on the industry and ponder ways to
improve the results for their clients. That minority group was greatly
outweighed, however, by the people who viewed it simply as a job. To
most of us, it was a way to earn money and make it through another day
in life.
12 Breaking Free

Figure 1 – Making plenty of money at a job you don’t love.

When it came down to it, money really was the rationale behind
spending one-third of my life doing something I didn’t truly love doing.
That and the fact I was too scared to go out on my own to follow my
dream of starting a business. My tanks were out of balance, and I began
to search desperately for a better way of living. I started reading every
book I could get my hands on and sought out advice from those whom I
admired. The next year would take me on a wild ride, and would
transform my life more than I could have possibly imagined. This wasn’t
a change or improvement. It was a quantum leap in all around life
fulfillment that would change me forever.

READY TO CHANGE
Deep down, I knew that I needed to take the plunge and quit. I
had known it for a long time, but had not really wanted to admit it to
myself. Working for myself had been a dream since I was in high school,
but I was still unsure of what to do. I decided to seek advice from others
and the advice I got was sometimes conflicting. People would say “You
The First Step on the Journey 13

need to stay at a good firm like your current job to learn more about
business before striking out on your own”. People would say “There is
no security in being an entrepreneur" and "You don’t want to burn any
bridges”. My parents and peers were not exactly supportive of quitting a
perfectly good job after spending all that money on a degree! But at the
same time, I had read a number of books on the subject and these
experts had a much different message. They told me that true happiness
comes only from following your path and purpose in life. They told me
that the journey to accomplish this is difficult, but rewarding. They told
me that doing the right thing for yourself may not always make other
people happy, but that doesn’t matter. I looked at my role models. They
weren’t cogs in a giant machine, working their way up the corporate
ladder. My heroes were people who worked for themselves, who were
doing new and innovative things. I didn’t want to be another person at
the cocktail party who defined themselves with “I work in accounting”,
“I work in sales”, or “I work in HR”. I didn’t want to see people’s eyes
glaze over as their brain processed what I said into “I’m boring and
settled for mediocrity in life”. I wanted to say “I invented [INSERT
AMAZING PRODUCT EVERYONE USES AND LOVES]” and
actually mean it. Or “I’m an astronaut, professional surfer, international
spy, and amateur detective”. Whatever! As long as I felt like I was doing
what I loved and my life had significance.
At first I told myself I would wait until Thanksgiving to decide.
I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a rash decision on a whim. If I
still felt the same way by Thanksgiving, then I’d pull the trigger. But
soon it became apparent I wouldn’t make it that long. Every day I
thought more and more about it. Finally I decided I would give my
notice to quit in one week, but didn’t tell anyone. Part of me thought
that I was completely crazy and that it was a stupid idea. Maybe it was
14 Breaking Free

just a phase I was going through, a tough period at work, or a mental


breakdown. Maybe I’d wake up tomorrow and realize that I was just
being silly. But, low and behold, a week had gone by and I felt more
excited than ever about quitting. Projects seemed less and less important
as they showed up in my inbox. Finally the day had arrived. I made it to
work, completely exhausted as usual and started sipping on bad coffee.
It didn’t really make me more awake, but the caffeine hit me hard with
no food in my stomach (late for work, and no breakfast again). I drafted
an email to the HR manager, letting him know I had decided to quit and
work for myself. I remember sitting there with the completed email
ready to send and looking at it. Was I really about to do this? Was I
really about to give up all this money and a job some people would kill
for? Who was I kidding? What made me think I could really be
successful on my own? What did I know? I didn’t have that much
experience. Most new businesses fail don’t they? I think I read that
somewhere. CLICK. Before the inner critic of self doubt could pester
me any more I sent the email off and instantly felt like a great weight had
been lifted from my shoulders. I was free....but what now?

A NEW LIFE
Over the next few years, some truly extraordinary things
occurred. It started with a few days of rest. I went to the exit interview
(wearing shorts and sandals) and poured my heart out about how
working at their company had left me feeling suffocated. I gave them a
few suggestions for improvement, they wished me luck in my new
adventure, and I headed for home. The first thing I did was sleep. A lot.
I had some catching up to do! After a few days I was rested and I began
to think about what the future had in store for me, and what my next
step would be. My mind was racing with newfound ideas and freedom.
The First Step on the Journey 15

I’d wake up in the morning with great ideas. I’d get great ideas just
before falling asleep at night. Sometimes even while showering I would
have great ideas and try to remember them, but often by the time I
finished showering my mind was on to other great things! I even tried
writing notes in the fogged glass of the shower and contemplated getting
one of those clip boards that scuba divers use to write underwater. That
way I’d be sure to remember all my brilliant thoughts!
I started reading again. All those books I had been meaning to
read, but never had time for suddenly became one of my top priorities. I
even took a speed reading course and was soon devouring a book a
week. Not things I had to read; things I wanted to read. Educational
things. I was acquiring new skills and ideas at a rapid pace.
Before long I found myself getting an extraordinary amount of
work done in an average day. Not only was I not working unpaid
overtime, but I was working at home. I would go to “work” in my
underwear or work by the apartment swimming pool with my laptop.
Even when I was doing something boring, like taxes, it didn’t even really
feel like work because I was working for myself! It was just something I
had to get done for me, not something I had to get done because my
boss told me. I didn’t have an hour round-trip commute through rush
hour traffic, so right there I had an extra hour in every day! The benefits
of this one item alone, not commuting, were (and continue to be) simply
staggering. Having an extra hour every day means you gain eleven full
days every year to do whatever you want. You could spend more time
with friends and family, read something thought provoking or
inspirational, or compose a masterpiece. Looking back, it’s almost
ridiculous for me to imagine myself wasting an hour of every day going
through traffic listening to Britney Spears and weight loss advertisements
on the radio.
16 Breaking Free

One day I sat down with a piece of paper and a pen and asked
myself a question. What have I wanted to accomplish in the past year
that I just didn’t have time to do? The result of this simple question was
astounding. Within six months of quitting my job I was taking salsa
lessons, learning Brazilian jujitsu and Thai kickboxing, and had joined a
public speaking club called Toastmasters. I was in the best shape of my
life and had more energy than I knew what to do with. I worked on
building a regular sleeping schedule and finally developed a good
relationship with my alarm clock by not needing it. Eventually, even if I
slept the same amount, I had more energy each day because I was excited
about what I was doing. I was finally living life. If someone cut me off
in traffic I didn’t get upset, things were going too well. I had time to do
errands which before would get pushed back farther and farther. My
apartment was actually clean for once and since I didn’t avoid (and
actually enjoyed) going to the grocery store, my fridge was always stocked
with great healthy food. I stopped using junk food as self medication
and stopped spending as much money eating out. I even became a better
cook. My dating life exploded as I had time to meet new people and
build relationships with them. Perhaps most importantly, the women I
was meeting were exponentially more attracted to a man who didn’t hate
his job and life. My happiness and my newfound freedom were
contagious. People couldn’t help but want to be around me. I had a
sense of empowerment that I really was in control of life. Instead of
reacting to external events, I was now generating my own events and
direction.
Of course some of you may be wondering about the tiny little
problem of money! “Of course you were having all kinds of fun, you
weren’t working!” But in reality I was. I was just working smarter. To
be fair, I had taken a big pay cut and while my happiness tank was full,
The First Step on the Journey 17

my money tank was not quite so full. Fortunately, I had taken a few key
steps before quitting to ease the transition into working for myself. I had
started a business that was ready to go from the day I quit. It didn't equal
my old salary right off the bat, but it soon grew to cover my expenses.
(How to make this transition smoothly will be a major topic of the book
in Chapter 4.)

Figure 2 –Doing what you love but unable to pay the bills!

The overall message and topic of this book can be summed up


in a simple phrase: get both of your tanks full! I will lay out for you, as
clearly as I know how, the exact steps that anyone can take to accomplish
this. It won’t necessarily be easy. Those things worth getting rarely are.
But it’s certainly possible for anyone who is committed and willing to
learn. For some people (and I suspect you may be one of them, since
you picked up this book), the best way to get both tanks full is to do
what they’ve known deep down they always wanted for themselves.
They need to quit their job and go to work for themselves! This is the
best way I know to be happy for those who have always dreamed big and
desired more freedom. The most wonderful thing about loving your job
18 Breaking Free

is that the money will come naturally. Start a business in an area you are
passionate about, and you’re well on your way to having both tanks full.

CONGRATULATIONS
I’d like to stop for a moment here and congratulate you. By the
very fact you have read this far, you have done an amazing thing that the
vast majority of people don't have the courage to do. You took time to
invest in yourself and your future! Almost everyone has had the feeling
at some point that they didn’t like their job or they wanted financial
freedom working for themselves. But very few have ever actually done
anything about it. They settled for mediocrity and the safe way out.
Even out of all those who did do something about it and purchased this
book, studies show that a fraction of them will actually open it and read
it! You are at this very moment in an elite group of people who have
gotten this far. I have the confidence in you that you’ll take the points
from this book that make sense to you, discard the ones that don’t, and
take the final most important steps at the end of this book to start
making changes in your life.

WHY THIS BOOK NEEDED


WRITING!
The specific company I worked at is not important. In fact, of
the half dozen companies where I worked before working for myself, all
of them were basically similar to the one I described above. I think many
people resonate with that particular situation I described above because it
is the current life they are living right now!
What drives me absolutely nuts, and ultimately was the impetus
for this book, was the fact that so many people are never able to leave that
situation. Despite a deep yearning in the bottom of their heart to do
The First Step on the Journey 19

something great, pursue their ideas, have the freedom to choose their
work, or add meaning to their lives by contributing greatly to the world,
they are never able to do it. And let me tell you, in a way I don’t blame
them. It is downright scary to quit your job. When you actually do it, its
somewhere between the feeling you get asking your high school crush to
the dance and speaking in front of a million people! What makes it
worse is that instead of having someone there to hold your hand and
reassure you, most people are telling you that you’re crazy and trying to
talk you out of it.
Let me be that helping hand to walk you through it. Will it be
scary? Yes! Will it be hard work? Yes! But the rewards are so amazing
that it’s worth it and when you become financially free by working for
yourself, you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Besides, I’ve
come up with a bunch of ways to make the scary part less scary, and did
some of the hard work for you.
I’m firmly convinced that the world would be full of so many
new inventions, better music, innovative software, cooler trends, less
violence, and happier people, if only people became free from their next
paycheck. If they could only take that difficult step into
entrepreneurship and working for themselves, then their lives and the
lives of everyone around them would benefit. Unfortunately, when you
don’t love your job, you’ll just do the minimum to not get fired. By
doing this you are selling yourself short. You aren’t using your full
potential, and you aren’t giving your greatest gifts to the world.
Everyone deserves a chance to reach a life of fulfillment and use
their greatest gifts to contribute to the world. As Lao Tzu, the Taoist
philosopher said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
step”. So let’s get started, and take the first step together!
20 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 1 SUMMARY

Brian’s Note
Yes, at the end of each chapter, there will be a little
summary. In my experience, the best presentations/books where I
learned the most followed the philosophy of “tell em what you’re
gonna tell em, tell em, then tell em what you told em”. At least, it
always helped me to hear it a few times.
There will also be exercises at the end of most chapters
(although not this one). I encourage you to keep a pen or pencil
handy with this book, so you can jot down some notes on the actual
exercise pages. The exercises are the most important part of the
book, even if they seem a little hokey at first. They make the
material personal to you, and there is something magical about the
physical action of writing that sets you well on the way to
accomplishing your goal.

• Most of us sacrifice too much for a day job that we don’t truly love.
o We let “who offered the most money” determine what we
do with one-third of our lives.
o We put in long hours.
o Our health suffers.
o Our relationships suffer.
o Our money tank is more full while our happiness tank is less
full.
o We work because someone tells us we have to.
• For many the answer is working for yourself.
The First Step on the Journey 21

o Instead of feeling like you are reacting to external events,


you can control your own life.
o You can choose to work on what you love.
o You can choose to make time for health and relationships.
o New possibilities open up as you have time to explore and
learn.
o You suddenly find time to do all the things you never had
time for.
o You get more done in each day because you are excited
about what you are working on.
• Congratulations
o I give you so much credit for doing what so many others
were afraid to do: taking the first step in a journey towards
quitting your job and working for yourself.
o This book needed to be written because so many people
have this desire buried deep inside them, but for some
reason never let it flourish. I hope this book will help you
start on the path and give you the confidence to reach your
full potential!
Chapter 2
Is it Right for Me?

"Whether You Think You Can or Can't, You're Right"


- Henry Ford

EXCUSE OR LEGITIMATE
REASON?

I ’ll be the first to admit that not everyone should quit their
job and go to work for themselves. There are a number of
legitimate reasons why this might not be a good idea for you which we’ll
discuss in this chapter. With that being said, however, the primary
problem is not the people who shouldn’t quit their job. It’s the people
who are coming up with excuses not to quit that are totally based on fear.
The wonderful grey matter resting between our ears is good for many
things. Unfortunately, it is also very good at creating excuses not to act
when we have an incredible opportunity in front of us. The majority of
people are using excuses, not legitimate reasons, to justify why they
haven’t taken the first step.
To the untrained eye, reasons like “I need to get more
experience”, “I haven’t been able to raise the money”, and “I don’t know
24 Breaking Free

how to do [fill in the blank, accounting, sales, some technology, etc]”


seem very good. Unfortunately they are not.
Part of the problem stems from something I call hero worship.
We see examples all the time of successful business people like Donald
Trump, Richard Branson (the CEO of Virgin Group who runs about 200
companies), Sergey Brin and Larry Page (who started Google), or even
someone closer to home like a successful relative or neighbor. When we
hear about how much these people have accomplished and what they
have done, we immediately think to ourselves: “They are brilliant!”,
“They are incredible!”, and “I could never do that!” Oh, what a horrible
mistake.
The people we admire are human beings just like you and I, and
I guarantee that there was a point in their lives when they were not so
confident or sure of themselves or successful! In fact, they probably
started off reading a book like this one, finding a mentor, or just being so
stubborn and determined that they wouldn’t give up after failing over
and over and over again. People love to look at celebrities, CEO’s, and
politicians and think about how lucky they are. The truth of the matter is
that nearly all of them are where they are because of lots of hard work.
In effect, they went out and made their own luck.
The first thing I want you to do is quit the hero worship.
Everyone you see with success is just like you and they are no more or
less deserving of success than you are. You can learn from them and
model them, but never see them as something magical that is
unattainable or placed upon a pedestal. You really have to give yourself
permission, to believe and know that you too can be successful and that
you deserve it.
This step alone will put you on the path to determining if the
reasons you are coming up with are excuses (your pesky inner critic,
Is it Right for Me? 25

which we’ll discuss later), or if they are legitimate reasons. The next time
you hear yourself say “I don’t have enough experience”, you’ll remind
yourself that you are going to learn as you go and that’s the best way to
get the experience! The next time you say “I haven’t been able to raise
the money” you’ll know that many successful people heard no 100 times
before they heard one yes, and that you probably need far less money
than you think (Chapter 7). And the next time you think to yourself “I
don’t know how to manage the finances, find any customers, or make the
website!” you’ll know that you can either learn it, outsource it, or get by
without it. The vast majority of the excuses we give ourselves are just
that: excuses. Our greatest limitations are the ones we create in our own
mind.
With that being said, let’s examine a few of the actual legitimate
reasons why quitting your job might not be the right thing.

LEGITIMATE REASONS NOT TO


QUIT YOUR JOB

You are Struggling to Support a Family


If you are in a position right now that makes you the primary
breadwinner and money is tight, it may be prudent not to quit your job.
In this case you will be making a sacrifice so that your kids, spouse,
sibling, or parents can eat, get through school, and do whatever else it is
that they depend on you for. By doing this you are putting other’s needs
ahead of your own. Your job may not be spectacular, and you may never
reach your full potential or happiness at work, but if your life at home is
more important, then so be it. This is what you might call the “I’ll run
my happiness tank low so the people I love can have a full tank” strategy.
26 Breaking Free

It’s not as good as everyone having a full tank, but may be a necessary
sacrifice in the short term.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you are doomed forever to be
in this position! After the kids are through school, or if the situation
improves in other ways, you may still be able to pursue the journey
through this book. A friend of mine had her father support her through
school for four years of college in a line of work he wasn’t passionate
about, just to pay her tuition. But once she had graduated, her father
promptly quit and went back to medical school to become a doctor at the
young age of 59!
I should also point out that just because you are supporting a
family doesn’t mean this is your “legitimate reason”. For this to be a
legitimate reason you must be supporting a family and have money be
tight. In other words, failure for you to bring home a paycheck would
have immediate consequences not just for yourself but for others around
you. There are plenty of people supporting families who quit their jobs
to work for themselves. The difference is that they aren’t living paycheck
to paycheck. Does it mean it will be easy for them not to have a steady
paycheck? No. Does it mean they are looking forward to it? No. Does
it mean what they won’t have any sacrifices? No. What it means is that
they will find a way to live with it for a chance at something much
greater. Chapter 4 will deal in depth with this topic of how to take a pay
cut smoothly.
Finally, “My husband/wife/significant other thinks I’m crazy for
wanting to quit” doesn’t count. Make your own decision and stick to
your guns.
Is it Right for Me? 27

You Are a Current Student


If you are a current student then your “job” is being a student. I
wouldn’t recommend actually dropping out of school, even if you hate it.
I know, I know, we’ve all heard of people like Bill Gates who dropped
out of college and went on to become one of the richest people in the
world. But even Bill Gates himself has publicly stated that this was a
really bad idea and he wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. They don’t hire
college drop outs at Microsoft.
The reason I wouldn’t recommend dropping out of school to
work for yourself is that college is a time to explore new ideas and try
lots of different things. Many people, myself included, went through
college with some new idea or hobby they wanted to try every week!
What seemed like the best idea of all time was completely forgotten six
months later. This is the perfect thing to do in college, as you find your
identity and interests. Change majors, go to ten different club meetings,
and see how many beers you can drink. Even if it turns out to be a bad
idea or that you were wrong, there aren’t any significant consequences! You
learn your lesson and no harm done.
But unfortunately, if you drop out of school to start a business
and it doesn't turn out as planned, there can be some pretty huge
consequences. It is probably harder than you think to get yourself to go
back, not to mention lost time and reapplication process. In fact,
statistically speaking, it’s highly unlikely you will ever go back. Does that
mean you are one of the statistics? Of course not. But it should indicate
to you that others have found it very hard, and there is probably a good
reason for this. Besides, there are much better options, such as starting
the business while still in college (this is what I did), and simply putting
up with school long enough to get a degree and get out. Take a lighter
class load so you have time to work on other projects. Or take a class
28 Breaking Free

that will help you on your way, such as entrepreneurship, accounting, or


finance. Dropping out of school is not the right choice when the
consequences are dire and so many other good options are available.
Pain then gain! Stay in school long enough to finish with your degree,
and you will be glad you did.
When you reach the job world, the consequences of quitting are
fairly minimal. You can always find another job if you really had to. In
fact, people do this all the time. Quitting school and having to find
another one is much harder than quitting a job and having to find
another one.

You Have no Idea What Type of Business You’d Like to Start


Just because you dislike your job and have started reading this
book doesn’t mean you should be rash and quit tomorrow. You should
only quit your job once you have a plan in place. Quitting your job to
work for yourself should be thought of as an ongoing process, instead of
one solitary action. The process involves many things such as
discovering what type of business you’d like to start, preparing
financially, and building your business on nights and weekends. You will
be on schedule and have known for months in advance before the actual
day comes that you walk in and say goodbye! If you have not put in this
time and effort, then quitting your job isn’t a heroic step toward your
personal freedom, it’s a careless act. Put in the time, and approach this
journey one step at a time.

You Truly Love Your Job


Only you can answer this question for yourself, but as hard as it
is for me to believe, some people truly do love their job working for
someone else! As a purely unscientific study based on my personal
Is it Right for Me? 29

experience interacting with hundreds of people at dozens of companies, I


would estimate that about five to ten percent of people at any given
company truly love their job. Keep in mind, most people will never
admit to you (or even themselves) that they aren’t passionate about their
work. They could be in denial about it, be completely unaware that
something better exists, or have convinced themselves that where they
are is perfect because admitting otherwise would mean they’d have to
change! Get to know someone well enough and this embarrassing truth
very often will come out. Also keep in mind that I didn’t say ninety
percent of people hate their job. I did say that ninety percent (or more)
of people aren’t passionate about their job. We’ll discuss more of what
that means in a second.
You can test this theory for yourself next time you are at any
type of social event. As you are standing there meeting new people and
desperately trying to make small talk, two inevitable questions will come
up: Where are you from? And what do you do?
Whenever I find myself in this situation, the second question in
particular always intrigues me, and I tend to look closely at how someone
answers it. As with all communication, the non verbal (voice tone, pitch,
variety, speed, and most importantly body language) says so much more
than the actual words coming out of their mouth. Some people can’t
wait to bubble away about their exciting projects and are truly inspiring in
their commitment and passion. But the majority of people, when asked
this question, have their eyes dart to the ground for just an instant. They
recite the line they have used so many times before with just a hint of
shame, “I do sales at a large medical distribution company”. As you
listen (wondering to yourself, what the heck do I know about medical
sales and what the heck will my next small talk question be), they watch
your face to see what your reaction will be. Will you be impressed?
30 Breaking Free

After all, they did say “large” distribution company. Or will you see
through their social mask and discount them as another boring person
you met at the party. Ask them how they like it and you may hear some
words like “It’s not too bad”, “It’d be better if...”, “But it has great
benefits”, and “Next year I might...”. If you ask enough people this
question, you will start to be able to spot them from across the room.
Without even asking, I can usually spot the people in the room who love
their work. They are having the most fun.
You may already know that you don’t like your job. But what if
you are on the fence? I mean, some parts of it you love, but some days it
really gets to you. What are some good indicators that you love your job?
Here are a few.

SIGNS YOU LOVE YOUR JOB


When you have free time (meaning, no one made you do it) do
you find yourself reading up on the industry and brainstorming ideas on
how to improve your company’s product, service, or customer
experience? When you wake up Monday morning, you are excited to
start your day and can’t wait to see what new things you can get done this
week. When your spouse or friends ask you about your day at work, you
eagerly recount tales of challenges overcome and fun experiences instead
of all the things that really bothered you.
If you are still on the fence, this is actually a good clue as to what
your ideal job might be. You obviously like some parts of it. Maybe all
you need is a similar job. Try brainstorming about variations on your job
(such as working in the same industry but for yourself) that would reduce
or eliminate the parts you don’t like.
Is it Right for Me? 31

WHO SHOULD QUIT THEIR JOB?


Now that we’ve looked at some legitimate reasons not to quit
your job, let’s take a closer look at some good indicators you should.
These are some common emotions and feelings that people with the
entrepreneurial spirit experience at some point in their lives.

Those With a Desire for Control!


A common theme I hear among those with the entrepreneurial
spirit (and even those who don’t yet know they have it!) is a desire for
more control. Every time their boss gives them something pointless to
do, every time there is an inordinate amount of red tape around a
seemingly simple task, every time they find themselves saying “If I was in
charge I wouldn’t do it that way”, they are expressing a desire for more
control in their lives.
Years ago I first heard of the concept of an internal vs. external
locus of control (locus just means place or position, and isn't too
important here). The first time I heard it, I didn’t give it much thought,
but then I started to hear other authors talk about the same concept in
different terms. Before long, I had heard it so many times it started to
sink in and I realized how important it was in my own life. So let me
pass it on to you, or merely present the message another time if you’ve
already heard it.
There are two types of people in this world. Those with an
internal locus of control, and those with an external locus of control.
The majority of people have an external locus of control, and they spend
their lives reacting to external events that happen to them. They get a
parking ticket, work shows up on their desk and inbox, their
girlfriend/boyfriend breaks up with them, etc. And every time they say
32 Breaking Free

“How could this happen to me?” You see, the universe did this to them.
It was out of their control. They are a victim, leaves blowing in the wind,
without any control of what events take place in their lives. As you can
imagine, this is a cause of great distress in their life because bad things
keep happening to them. The world must hate them. And even when
good things happen, they think “Wow, what luck!” They can’t take
credit for good things, because the world gave it to them. It was just
their lucky day. Such is the fate of those people with an external locus of
control.
On the other hand, people with an internal locus of control are
the people that don’t believe in luck. They make their own luck. Instead
of reacting to external events, they are creating their own events. They
have an ultimate goal in mind and they are constantly making small steps
toward it because that’s what they are focused on. When work shows up
on their desk, they don’t react to it. They evaluate it. Does it help them
accomplish their goal? If it does then it gets high priority and they want
to do it because it helps them reach their goal. If it’s unimportant then
they delegate it or don’t even do it! They are too focused on
accomplishing their goal to deal with unimportant things. If they get a
parking ticket, no one did it to them. They take responsibility, learn their
lesson, and move on without getting upset. After all, how silly would that be
to let a stupid parking ticket control you? They are in control of
themselves and reaching their goals, and something like a little parking
ticket sure isn’t going to matter in the big scheme of things.
The best way to sum up this idea is to realize there will always be
things you can blame failure on. Unsuccessful people talk about how the
economy is just not strong enough, taxes are too high, the wrong person
is in office, their family is holding them back, etc, etc, etc. But then they
change their locus of control, build success habits, and change their lives
Is it Right for Me? 33

slowly. Five years later they wake up and they are extremely successful.
But guess what? The economy is about the same, taxes are about the
same, the person in office is about the same, and their family is about the
same. Everything is about the same except for one very important thing:
them! They made a decision to take control of their lives and not allow
external events to control them, and that made all the difference.
Remember the internal locus of control and try to make it an
integral part of your life. Most people with this character trait have a
strong desire to control the destiny of their own life. They can’t
accomplish this by working for someone else, so they start their own
business.

Those with a Tolerance for Risk


Unfortunately, as an entrepreneur, you will need to have some
tolerance for risk. You will be making well thought out choices, or at
least educated guesses, so when we say risk here, we aren’t talking about
the lottery. But at the end of the day, there will be a number of points in
your life as an entrepreneur where the final decision is up to you,
whether to invest 50% of your net worth in an idea or not. And you may
not know if that was the right decision for a year or more while you wait
for things to pan out!
Waiting for a year, not knowing if your “bet” will pay off can be
a cause of anxiety. Your heart rate will quicken as adrenaline courses
through your veins. Your palms might get clammy and you will feel a
whole family of butterflies flying around your stomach. For some, this
feeling is unbearable, and is equivalent to pain which they will avoid at all
costs. But for entrepreneurs this feeling is equivalent to excitement. It
lets them know they are alive!
34 Breaking Free

So what, on the other hand, are the symptoms of being excited?


Well, your heart rate quickens and you get some adrenaline running
through your veins. You may sweat a bit and get clammy hands. You
may even get some butterflies going around in your stomach. Wow,
being excited feels a lot like the feelings of anxiety!
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to like those feelings, but
many of us do because they can be just like excitement. The day before
launching a new product you may not sleep a wink, as giddy as a kid on
Christmas eve. It lets you know that you are doing something significant
and important that will have real significance in the world. It lets you
know that you are alive and having memorable experiences in life! Do
you have to love the feeling? No. But you do have to at least be able to
tolerate it, and you may even grow to like it.

Those who Dream Big!


Have you had a sneaking suspicion throughout your life that you
were destined to achieve something great? Something that would change
the lives of many people for the better and build you great wealth in the
process? Have you ever had a day dream about being recognized on the
street and the center of attention at cocktail parties with people stopping
to say “Hey you’re that guy/gal who made [INSERT COOL
PRODUCT/SERVICE], right? I love it!” Have you always been a little
bit disappointed that you hadn’t accomplished this thing yet? That you
weren’t getting any closer to this ultimate vision you have of yourself?
If so, you sound like a big dreamer to me. If you are someone
who has always had big goals and aspirations to help others, change the
world, leave your mark, the chances of you accomplishing this while
working for someone else are fairly small. You could do this as part of a
Is it Right for Me? 35

small company, or in a top position in a big company, but in my


experience it’s much easier to accomplish this by working for yourself.
According to Brian Tracy1, fully 74% of people in the US who
are millionaires are self-made. This means, they didn’t inherit wealth,
they weren’t born rich, and they didn’t get rich working for someone
else! They were the big dreamers out there who never gave up on their
ideas.
Many people state that they want to feel like their work is
important. They hate the idea that they are just another cog in the
machine of a huge corporation where the left hand doesn’t know what
the right is doing. While many feel this way, few do anything about it. If
you are a big dreamer, you won’t truly be happy in life until you are on
the path to achieving part of that dream. Congratulations, you are a
perfect candidate to quit your job and work for yourself.

Those Who are Lacking Excitement in Their Day


When you wake up Monday morning are you excited to go to
work? I wasn’t at any of my old jobs, but now I look forward to the
tasks I’m doing each morning in my own business. It’s exciting. If you
aren’t excited to go to work most mornings, this is a big red flag waving
right in your face. It seems so obvious in retrospect, but I didn’t notice it
for years.

1 Brian Tracy is one of the top success coaches in the US. We’ll hear more about him
later.
36 Breaking Free

THE MOST COMMON EXCUSES IN


THE BOOK!
We’ve gone over some good reasons to quit your job and work
for yourself, and we’ve gone over some good reasons not to quit your job.
But there is one more category that isn’t any type of reason at all: the
excuse. These are the most insidious type, because our magnificent
brains seem to come up with them so easily when we are about to do
something scary. Luckily, we’re going to lay out some of the most
common ones here to help separate them from legitimate reasons.

I’m too old or too young


There really is no time like now. I mentioned earlier in this book
a friend of mine who went back to medical school at the age of 59.
There are also many successful businesses started every year by people in
high school and college.
The type of thinking that tells you “It’s too late to get started” or
“I’ll do it in a year after I have more experience” is just flat wrong. You
have to realize that your brain will never stop bringing things like this up.
It’s hard wired into your brain to tell you this and cause some self doubt
at times. It’s a survival mechanism that is occasionally very outdated in
our modern world. That’s why it’s your job to ignore your brain when it
says things like this! T. Harv Eker2 taught me a wonderful thing to say
when your brain brings up these excuses. All you have to say is “Thank
you for sharing”.
If you think you are too old now, think about how late it will be
if you wait another five years! One of the secrets to success is that when
you’ve made up your mind to do something, you should take decisive
Is it Right for Me? 37

action right then to get started. Don’t wait until tomorrow; do it today.
Right now if possible. And just keep doing a little bit every day (make it
a habit, which we’ll talk more about). Pretty soon, you’ll look back and a
month will have gone by and so much has been accomplished you will
hardly believe it. You can eat an entire elephant, if you only have to take
one bite a day. Don’t focus on how much you have ahead; just focus on
the single next step right in front of you, and do it.
If you think you are too young (with the exception of being a
student, which I described above), telling yourself you will get started
later is the same as saying you will never do it. Take massive action the
moment you decide.

I don’t have any good ideas


I fell for this excuse for many years, so don’t feel bad. It took
me a while to realize that conventional wisdom – successful businesses
are formed with a brilliant original idea – was flat wrong. Only a small
percentage of businesses have ever been created in this way, and it’s far
from the truth. Let’s look at a few reasons why you don’t need to be full
of incredible inventions and ideas to start a successful company.
First, very few businesses are started on some brand new idea.
In fact, historically speaking, often times the person with the brilliant idea
dies penniless and broke while others capitalize on it. Nikola Tesla, the
inventor of AC electricity and the radio, Charles Goodyear, who made
the first rubber that could be used year round, and Johannes Gutenberg,
who created the printing press, all died without a cent to their name.
Instead, most successful businesses take an existing idea and find some
way to improve on it. They sell at a lower price, higher quality, in a

2 Harv Eker is an author and teaches people financial freedom


38 Breaking Free

better location, by combining with another product, or with a new twist,


but they rarely start something from scratch.
Just to give you an example, even if you have absolutely no
original ideas whatsoever in your entire life (which I find highly unlikely),
there are still a ton of businesses you can start. There are many good
franchises (at the time of this writing Subway and Quiznos are two of the
highest ranked) where they literally give you the entire business plan from
A to Z in a book. They provide you with every single step you can
follow to own your own business and be successful. You can also invest
in commercial real estate, you can teach others what you know as a tutor
or consultant, you can buy an existing business, and the list goes on and
on.
Just because you think you don’t have any good ideas doesn’t
mean you won’t, and moreover, you don’t need them in the first place!
Take a page from Thomas Edison who said “Genius is 1% inspiration
and 99% perspiration”.
I should also mention that when I first started out, I didn’t have
any ideas that I thought were good. But what I did do was talk to lots of
people. I listened to their ideas and some of them were good! Those
people became my new business partners as we started companies
together. I also learned and read day and night to get new ideas (there
are many ideas for free out there for the taking). I also learned how to
come up with good ideas. Study effective brainstorming techniques;
you’ll be amazed what you come up with. The bottom line is that plenty
of good ideas exist out there in the world. What we truly have is a
shortage of committed entrepreneurs with the audacity to make them
happen.
Is it Right for Me? 39

I’m not wealthy, well educated, from a good family, etc.


I have a great deal of sympathy and respect for people who don’t
come from a privileged background, because nothing has been given to
them. If you fall into this boat, then I have news for you: This is actually
your greatest strength, because it gives you the toughness to keep going
no matter what. The harsh reality is that you may be using your past as
an excuse, and it’s holding you back.
This can be a bitter pill to swallow, if you have been carrying
around this chip on their shoulder your whole life. You may get
defensive to this idea, and say “He doesn’t understand” or “Of course he
would say that”. But stop for a moment to reflect on your strong
emotions. If you aren’t careful, these feelings can come to define your life.
It could be your story that you tell. You could become attached to it
because it has secondary pay offs (sympathy from others, friendship
from people in a similar condition, an explanation for when things go
wrong, etc). Ultimately this thinking is destructive and is holding you
back.
Life is absolutely full of stories of people who have overcome
incredible odds. Brian Tracy was a high school drop out who held some
of the worst jobs imaginable before becoming a self made millionaire
later in life. Sylvester Stallone was so poor at one time he sold his dog
(his best friend in the world) for $25 to avoid starvation. He cried
himself to sleep for weeks before finally selling the script for Rocky. A
personal friend of mine who was abandoned as a child, grew up on the
streets in gangs, and stole food to survive, is now an HR manager at a
top firm with a beautiful home and family. I’ve heard stories of sexual
abuse, drug addiction, discrimination (and the list goes on) where people
overcame incredible odds to become extremely successful happy people.
40 Breaking Free

At the same time, I’ve also known people who were born with
everything they could need (Ivy League education, loving parents, trust
fund) who ended up spending their life in and out of rehab, suicidal, or
on anti-depressants.
The point I’m trying to make here is simple: your past does not
equal your future.
External situations simply don’t matter in the long run. The only
thing that matters is what is on the inside. You can make a decision right
now to stop using the excuse of your current situation. To take
responsibility for your own progress and improve your life no matter what.
If this is an excuse you’ve been using, my only goal is to make
you aware of it. That is the first step to cutting it out of your life and
moving on to success.

It sounds like a lot of work


Well, yes it is. I have only a few things to say on this subject.
First, it’s not as much as you think. In chapter six I outline all
the steps to starting a business and it’s really not as tough as people
imagine.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, saying it sounds like a lot
of work is indicative of a larger problem. The thing is, there are going to
be lots of things in life that require long term goals and lots of work, and
you will have to do them. So this is more an issue of having the right
mindset. If you decide you want to do something, and think about it
everyday, you will usually find a way no matter how hard it seems. Find
something you are passionate about and enjoy doing (Chapter 5), and it
won’t seem like work anymore.
Is it Right for Me? 41

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO


[BLANK]
Fill in the blank: raise the money, do the accounting, hire good
people, do the “technical” part, create the marketing, find customers, etc.
This is perhaps the biggest excuse we all use in one form or another. I
will let you in on a little secret: most successful entrepreneurs knew as
much or less than you know right now when they started their companies.
I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. The difference is that they
told themselves “It might be difficult, but somehow I’ll find a way to get
it done”.
This is a very powerful mentality. To realize that you don’t
know something, but it will be okay. Maybe you don’t even know what
you don’t know!
For example, let’s say you wanted to produce a better
mousetrap. Your thought process might go something like this:

“I know basically how a common mousetrap works,


but what other types exist? I know nothing about
physics or mechanical engineering, or how much force
is required to kill a giant rat. How big do rats get
anyway? Maybe I’ll have to talk to some biologists.
China is a big market, should I sell there? How big do
rats get in China? What if I want to kill the rat
humanely? Maybe there are some poisons; I know
nothing about chemistry or poisons. How can you tell
if the rat felt any pain when it died? Do you have to
be regulated by the government to sell a product with
poisons in it?”
42 Breaking Free

Clearly, there are a lot of unanswered questions, and this is just a


simple example! But I’m here to tell you, nothing is impossible. If you
really wanted to build a better mousetrap, I bet you could still do it. If
you sat down and brainstormed for ten minutes on ways to “find out
what government regulations exist for companies that sell poisonous
products”, I bet you’d come up with lots.
Whenever you encounter a situation where you say “I don’t
know how to do [BLANK]”, you have two basic options: learn it, or pay
someone to do it.
Neither one is as hard as you might think. With the internet
today, you can find out almost anything you could ever want. And when
I say “pay someone to do it” I’m not talking about spending lots of
money hiring someone or taking on a business partner. You can
outsource all types of things now for next to nothing (see below). So
here are some of my favorite ways to get around these problems.

Learn it yourself
• Google
The first step is to type whatever you are wondering about in Google
and start reading. This is most likely the single greatest resource ever
created. Every successful person I know uses it dozens of times per
day.
• Wikipedia
Visit en.wikipedia.org. It’s the largest encyclopedia in the world
(far bigger than Britannica) and is written in many different
languages. You will almost surely find a detailed article on it with
links to the best sites.
Is it Right for Me? 43

• Forums
Find a discussion board on the internet related to your topic. Join it,
search it, and post to it. Every single industry and profession (and
often times even individual products) will have a huge discussion
board dedicated to it. Even if you search the board and it doesn’t
have what you want, post your question! I joined a board like this
when researching a mechanical engineering issue for a product I was
designing. I posted a highly technical question (at least it was to me,
to these old timers it was second nature) and within a day I had a
dozen responses from people with 10, 15, even 20 years experience
in the industry. They were eager to help and share their knowledge,
and it was entirely free!

As a side note, for almost any topic, there will be several discussion
boards, but one of them usually accounts for probably 80% of all the
content. The more participants the forum has, the higher the value.
You don’t need to find all of them, just find the one best one.
• eHow
Go to www.ehow.com and you will likely find an article on how to
do exactly what you are pondering. You can get step-by-step
instructions on everything from designing an effective business card
to selling a business. This website is amazing.
• Speed Read Books
Whenever I am trying to learn a new skill (how to market a product,
how to cook, how to compose a song, etc) one of the most valuable
things I do is get the top one or two books on a subject and read
them. Just this one act alone will give you more knowledge than
99% of other people out there. If you need an in depth knowledge
of a subject, read the top five or ten books on a subject to get
44 Breaking Free

different perspectives and approaches. You can literally learn any


subject in this manner.

Does this take awhile? Of course. But successful people are simply
those who are willing to never stop learning.

Often times, authors will dedicate a significant portion of their lives


to learning about a particular topic. They will read hundreds of
articles, talk to all the top people in a field, synthesize complex ideas
from all over the world into easy principles, and summarize all the
conflicting view points. Ten years later a book is finally produced
and little old you can come along to purchase the entire body of
knowledge for twenty bucks. For a few dollars and a few hours you
can insert all that knowledge into your brain like inserting a CD into
a computer! It really is astounding if you stop to think about it. This
is a unique ability human beings have that isn’t taken advantage of
enough.

You really owe it to yourself to learn how to speed read. Yes, speed
reading and speed comprehension are real. Make an investment in
this skill and it will continue to reward you for the rest of your life.
• Networking
Learn how to network! They say that you are only five or six degrees
away from anyone on this planet, and I really believe it’s true. Its not
who you know, it’s who the people you know, know!

For example, let’s say I had a complex and tough question about
how bio-diesel fuel affects the metal parts in an engine compared to
regular gasoline. I happen to know very little about bio-diesel, but I
Is it Right for Me? 45

did hear about a lecture a year ago on alternative fuels that was given
by one of the world’s leading experts. My acquaintance John hosted
that event and could put me in touch with the speaker. I also know
that my former roommate’s father works for Shell Oil, and even if he
can’t answer my question, I’m sure he would be able to put me in
touch with half a dozen people who research the topic for the living.

If you have a question, reach out to your network! Even if they are
acquaintances or you haven’t seen them in a while, most people are
more than willing to help.
• Take a Class
Most community colleges offer very inexpensive classes (could be as
low as $15) on a whole range of topics such as business accounting,
website design, and marketing. On any given day, hundreds of
seminars are probably being given in your city on various topics.
Also check your local city’s small business association to see what
classes they offer.

Pay someone else to do it.


If you’ve decided the topic is just too confusing or a high degree
of skill is required that would take you years to master, it’s time to call in
an expert. There are still plenty of budget conscious ways to get some
help. Here are a few ideas:
• Outsourcing
One of the best ways to hire an expert is outsourcing. Hiring an
actual employee can be a long, expensive, difficult process (taxes,
benefits, salary, interviews, etc), so outsourcing makes great sense for
small businesses. Two of the best websites I’ve found to outsource
work are www.guru.com and www.elance.com
46 Breaking Free

The way these sites work is that you post a project on the website,
and experts from around the world come to bid on it. It’s great
because you don’t have to go out and find people or negotiate prices.
The professionals are already there, bidding the lowest price to get
your business! Because these people are bidding from all over the
world, it’s often amazing how inexpensively you can get quality work
done. You can look at prior work and feedback from past clients
(they have a feedback system just like eBay so you know if they are
legitimate) and make an educated decision on whom to select for the
job.

Guru.com, for example, has over half a million registered


professionals at the time of this writing. I once posted a project that
required a professional with a rare combination of skills (mechanical
engineering, proficiency in a particular piece of software, artistic
ability, and a background in the aesthetics of product design). I
eventually received over a dozen bids for this project and selected an
excellent professional who was able to do the work 1000 miles away
for a fraction of the price.
• Answers Websites
Go to answers.google.com or answers.yahoo.com and type in
your question. For a very reasonable fee, you can have experts all
over the world help answer your question and do the research for
you.
• Partner
Take on a partner. If you don’t have cash to hire someone full time,
you may have to pay them with equity in the company. If you are
going to need an expert in a particular subject on a regular basis at
Is it Right for Me? 47

the company, and outsourcing would become a day to day activity,


you may want to find a partner. Approach them and ask them about
starting the business together. Be very clear on what skills you are
each bringing to the table to form a great partnership.
• Trade
You can pay others in trade. If you can’t pay in cash, you still have
your knowledge in other areas to sell. For example, if you are a good
programmer, but you need some graphic design work done for your
logo and brochures, you may be able to get your graphic design
buddy to do the work for free if you help him out with a
programming project he is stuck on. Cultivate these relationships
(remember networking?) and don’t hesitate to do someone a favor if
they ask you. You might need to cash in the return favor when you
least expect it!

I truly hope you never have another reason to seriously think “I


can’t do [blank]”. It’s easy to fall into that trap, so the next time it
happens, catch yourself and go back to review this list.

MAKE THE DECISION


As an exercise, try thinking about a long term goal you have had
that you haven’t yet accomplished. Maybe it has to do with money, your
relationships, your health (like losing weight or quitting smoking). Take a
moment right now, stop reading, and come up with one that is important
to you.
Really, stop right now and don’t continue reading till you think
of one!
48 Breaking Free

Now imagine your perfect ideal self as you would be in the future
if you had fully accomplished this goal. Imagine yourself five years from
now with all your dreams fulfilled. Take a moment and actually visualize
yourself, imagine how it would feel, how others would perceive you, and
how you would feel about yourself. Compare it to how you are now.
Take a moment and try it. Go ahead!

I bet that goal seems a long way off, doesn’t it? Comparing your
ideal self with how you are today is going to be a pretty large difference.
If you are like most people, this can be down right depressing to think
about. The goal seems almost impossible. You have tried and worked
hard for all this time and it still seems so far away!
Now, think back to five years ago, or to a time when you first
started thinking about a goal. Think about how you acted then, how
little you knew, what you were like, and how people perceived you as it
relates to this particular goal. Now compare this to where you are today.

Again, the difference should be surprising! Notice how you


really have changed so much in that short period of time. You hadn’t
noticed it because it was so gradual, but thinking back to that time, you
were almost an entirely different person!
The point of this exercise is to see how depressing it can be to
think about how far we have to go, and at the same time so inspiring to
see how far we have come.
The problem is that most people don’t usually get to experience
the second one, because they spend all their time thinking about how far
away it is, and never make the very first step.
Is it Right for Me? 49

That is so key; successful people don’t dwell on how far away it


is, they just ask themselves “What is the next step?” Then they finish
that little part today.
Clearly you have to do long term planning sometimes, and make
sure you are on track, but as a day to day activity it’s much more effective
to stick your head in the sand and look at the one small task that needs to
be completed for the day. If you can just do one thing every day, to get
one step closer toward your goal, then you will wake up a year later and be
utterly astounded at how far you have come.
The biggest mistake you can make is to say “A year? Ten years?
What is the point? That is so far away”. Well guess what? It’s going to
be even farther away if you wait another year to get started.
A friend of mine finished his thesis for his graduate degree by
making a rule for himself: every day no matter what, he would write one
sentence.
Of course, after writing one sentence, it was often easy to write a
few more sentences or even a few pages, but this was a great way to trick
his brain into getting started. “Oh yeah, I have to write my one sentence
for the day, this will just take a second”. Without fail, every day he wrote
at least one sentence and he finished long before his classmates who
stayed up all night at the end of the semester.
As stated before, one of my favorite sayings starts with a
question: “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer: “One bite at a
time.”
Now that we’ve discussed in depth the good reasons, bad
reasons, and excuses (that aren’t reasons at all) to quit your job, lets try to
personalize it for your own life. We are going to do this with some
simple exercises on the next few pages where you can write in the
book.
50 Breaking Free

WARNING:
The next few pages of this book are going to contain some
written exercises that will take a few minutes. If you are anything like
me, you might be tempted at this point to skip over the exercises and
start reading the next chapter, especially if you are in a hurry. For
your own sake, please don’t! I will tell you why.
When I first started learning about this topic, I was too quick
to hear an idea, agree with it, and move on to the next. I never
stopped to actually experience it for myself. I think that on some
level I thought I was smart enough to understand it without writing
anything down. But it wasn’t until years later that I started actually
doing the exercises myself, and that is when my success went up
drastically. I can’t fully explain it, except to say that there is
something magical about the act of physically writing something
down on paper. Even if you have a thought in your head that you
think is crystal clear, try writing it down and you will discover new
aspects you hadn’t even considered.
Perhaps, like me, you have discovered the power of writing
things down while sending a letter or email to a friend to ask for
advice. You are writing away, trying to explain the problem clearly so
your friend will understand the exact situation you’re in, when
suddenly you arrive at the solution yourself! The very act of putting
your thoughts into words clarified the problem to the point where
you now knew the next step. Typically, I still send the letter or email
anyway, and thank the person for being such a good listener!
Is it Right for Me? 51

At the beginning of this book, I congratulated you on taking


the step that so many others didn't, by picking up this book and
investing in yourself. Unfortunately, of the small percentage who
make it as far as you did, an even smaller percentage take action and
actually do the exercises to get the full benefit. Please don't make the
same mistake I did for so many years by assuming you can get
everything just by reading, not doing. Write directly in the book, and
get your thoughts on paper! If you are worried about someone
coming along and reading your most personal thoughts, or if you
may want to share this book with someone else later, then feel free to
write on a separate sheet. But please write. When you are finished
with the book, you will have in your hands a whole collection of
clues into your own life. The book will cease to become abstract
thoughts that could apply to anyone; it will be a book about your life,
where you are going, and what you will do.
52 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 2 EXERCISES
What do you like about your current job (assuming you work for
someone else)? Please list at least five benefits or positive aspects that
you enjoy.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What do you dislike about your job? Please list at least five negative
aspects of your job.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

How do you feel when you wake up Monday morning to go to work?


What do you do in your free time, when there is nothing you have to do?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What would be some advantages to quitting your job? Please list five.
1.
Is it Right for Me? 53

2.
3.
4.
5.

What would be some disadvantages to quitting your job? Please list five.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Think back to conversations you have had with others (family, friends,
significant other, etc). What reasons come up in conversation about why
you shouldn’t quit your job?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Using the chapter as a reference if necessary, please decide whether each


of the last 10 disadvantages you wrote down is an excuse or legitimate
reason not to actually quit. Mark each one with an “E” or an “LR”. Be
honest!
54 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 2 SUMMARY
• It’s often hard to tell whether the reasons we use are excuses or
legitimate reasons.
• Many people’s excuses are nothing more than limiting beliefs.
• Who shouldn’t quit their job?
o Those struggling to support a family.
o Current students.
o People with no idea what business to start.
o Those who truly love their job.
• Who should quit their job?
o Those with a desire for control of their life.
 Strive to become a person with an internal locus of
control, avoid people with an external locus of
control.
o Risk lovers.
o Big dreamers.
o People who are bored with their life.
o Those who don’t spend time on what they are passionate
about.
• Common excuses.
o I’m too old/young.
o I don’t have any good ideas.
o I’m not wealthy/well educated/from a good family.
o It sounds like a lot of work.
• I don’t know how to do [blank].
o Learn how to do it yourself.
 Google
Is it Right for Me? 55

 Wikipedia
 Forums
 eHow
 Speed read books
 Networking
 Take a class
o Pay someone else to do it.
 Outsourcing
 Answers Websites
 Partnerships
 Trade
Chapter 3
Building the Confidence to
Take the Scary Step

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
-Robert Francis Kennedy

L et me state one more time, that if you skipped the


exercises at the end of chapter two, you are really selling
yourself short. I don’t completely understand why, but often it seems as
human beings we resist the things that would help us the most. I know
because I did it in my own life, and I still catch myself doing it Do
yourself a favor and jot down a few notes on the previous pages! Stop
reading!
Ok, now that we’re all back together, let me make something
very clear before continuing: quitting your job is going to be scary!
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it will be easy,
because it won’t be. There is no magic secret that will make it pain free.
You are going to feel anxiety, you are going to have self doubt, and your
brain is going to come up with all kinds of negative thoughts. You will
find yourself wondering if maybe you have everyone fooled. You read
58 Breaking Free

the book, you did the exercises, but who are you kidding? Those other
people who did it are so much smarter than you, they aren’t in your
situation, they have all those advantages, and that’s why it won’t work for
you.
Does this sound at all like the little voice in your head? I will tell
you one secret: Everyone, from the most successful CEOs to the highest
paid actors and musicians to the president of the United States, at one
time were very unsure of themselves and had the same thoughts going
around their head. Actually, more than that, they still have those
thoughts go around their head once in a while. In fact you can never get
rid of them 100%. The only difference between those that are successful
and those that aren’t is that successful people don’t listen to those negative
thoughts.
This is such an important point, we are going to explore it in
depth in this chapter. When it comes down to it, it’s fear, not actual
knowledge, that trips people up on the path to becoming a successful
entrepreneur. Like many things in life, being self-employed is a mental
game. Those who are mentally tough are the ones who succeed.
We must admit and embrace the fact that life is filled with scary
experiences. They are all around us. Can you think of a time when you
saw a good looking “hunk” or “babe” sitting across from you at
restaurant or coffee shop? I bet you were nervous and trying not to look
silly in front of them, and maybe you even thought about going over to
say “Hi”. But your brain made a whole slew of excuses: “They look
busy", "I shouldn’t bother them”, “I bet he/she has a
girlfriend/boyfriend”, “I look like a mess just running out of the house
like this”, “I would go say ‘Hi’ if I was dressed better”, and “What if they
aren’t interested and everyone sees me get rejected?”
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 59

Business is really no different. Sometimes opportunities crop up


that are risky but could be highly rewarding. Just like a potential mate
sitting across from you at the coffee shop, we might see an attractive
investment deal sitting across from us at the conference table. Do we
sign or not? There the brain goes again: “I’m busy with so many other
things right now, do I even have time for this?” “There’s another
investor already working on a similar project, he might beat me to it.”
“I’m relatively new to this whole field; are these people secretly laughing
behind my back?” “What if I lose my shirt on this deal and everyone
thinks I’m a failure?”

Brian’s Note
I am actually in a coffee shop right now writing this, and as I
was writing that last paragraph a cute girl walked by that I wanted to
meet. Just as I suspected, my brain instantly came up with an excuse!
“I’ve got to get some work done on the book, and I don’t have time
to take a break”. But then I thought, “Brian, how hypocritical would
that be to be writing a book about this very topic when you can’t do
it yourself!” Anyway, I had some anxiety but finally went and did it.
Maybe I should send her a copy of the book since she is now in it.
I tell you this to illustrate an important point. Recognizing
these excuses we create is only the first step. You can understand it
and believe it intellectually, but it doesn’t change the fact that your
brain will do it! It is a constant battle we wage with ourselves to
remove our limitations and ignore the inner critic.

So I hope that we are in agreement on the fact that quitting your


job will be scary. Despite being scary however, it will be a positive step
60 Breaking Free

that you will be so glad you took, so let’s look at some of the things that
might hold you back.

WHY MOST PEOPLE FAIL

A Desire for Certainty


One of the fundamental needs of human beings that has been
written about in psychology for decades is the need for certainty1. In
fact, many people consider this the most fundamental human need of all.
If we jump out of a plane, can’t trust the wobbly bridge, the car spins out
of control, or the air is suddenly sucked out of the room, then nothing
else matters. During an event like this, the desire for certainly is more
powerful than the need for food, water, happiness, procreation, and love.
Unfortunately, this basic human need doesn’t always go very well
with another human need, which is the desire for purpose, growth, and
contribution. This is why we seek to build companies that can bring us
wealth, help other people by providing value to their lives, and give our
lives significance and importance. In the moment, our desire for
certainty often wins out because it is necessary in the short term. Our
brains are designed to work in a world that existed one hundred
thousand years ago, where a tiger or neighboring tribe might jump out at
any moment to kill us! To survive in that world, our brains evolved to
prioritize certainty above all else. It was a necessary survival trait then,
but doesn’t always serve us well in the modern day. Purpose, growth,
and contribution are more long term goals and if we aren’t careful our

1 For example, Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. This is also discussed by
many contemporary people such as Tony Robbins.
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 61

overwhelming desire for certainty can totally prevent us from achieving


them.

A Lack of Self Confidence


Although it’s tough to admit, we are often the greatest obstacles
to our own success. Everyone suffers from a lack of self confidence at
various points in their life. In fact, if you can’t admit to yourself that you
sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence, this might be the first
indication of it!
Luckily there are ways to build self confidence.
The primary way is to go right through it by starting small. Each
and every time you feel nervous about something, and still go through
with it, you will build confidence. For example, let’s say you lack
confidence in starting a company. Maybe first you could read a book
about it and write out some exercises. Once you discovered how easy it
was and actually did the exercises, then you would automatically feel
more confident. Then you could invest in a small business, like putting
up a simple website or writing an e-Book. Once this worked you’d get
even more confident. Finally maybe you’d start a larger business. You’d
be nervous about interviewing people, but after you hired the first one it
would get easier. After you wrote a successful advertisement, you
wouldn’t feel nervous about that. Finally, after you closed a big contract
with your first client you would know you were going to make it! Slowly
but surely, the number of things you were unsure of would get smaller
and smaller. Simultaneously, your confidence would increase. A simple
62 Breaking Free

way to remember this is action eliminates fear2. Be like a Nike ad and just
do it.
In fact, after a while you can actually train yourself to respond
positively to a nervous unconfident feeling. Feeling nervous will turn
into an automatic response where your brain says “Hey, I’m feeling
nervous, that means its time to just do it!” Actually, sometimes when I
start to feel nervous about a particular event, I stop and tell myself “This
is great! It means I’m about to learn something”. Feeling nervous or
unconfident about something means you are about to have an incredibly
valuable experience. What a great opportunity!
The second thing to realize about confidence is that it really isn’t
that important to have. You can get by without it. What you need
instead is to build competence3. Imagine for a moment that you are
riding a motorcycle. Would you rather be confident or competent? A
confident person who lacks competence might take the bike right into a
very dangerous situation and not be able to get out! On the other hand,
a competent motorcycle driver who lacks confidence will still be alive to
slowly build the confidence over time. So don’t worry about getting
confidence. Just learn the basics to become competent. Then take
immediate action! The confidence will come as a byproduct over time.

An External Locus of Control


We discussed this concept in the previous chapter, but if you still
feel your life is controlled by the external events in life that are happening
all around you, then you will always be doomed to failure. Don’t ever

2 I didn’t create this phrase. I first heard it from a man named Don Akers, who is a
business coach and former Golden Gloves Boxing champion.
3 This concept is attributed to a man named Erik Von Markovik.
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 63

make excuses that something “happened” to you or someone “did”


something to you. No one owes you anything. The time to take
responsibility for your progress is now. You are the only one responsible
for your own happiness.

Parents & Loved Ones' Expectations


Unfortunately, many people let the expectations of others
control their life. Quitting your job is scary enough on its own without a
group of people around trying to discourage you!
Imagine your desire to start a business is like a seed you planted
in the ground. It’s going to take lots of water, sunlight, and nourishment
to grow one day into a strong tree. What do you think is going to
happen if every few days, just as the first tender green leaves are
emerging from the soil, someone walks by accidentally stepping on them
and loudly declares “where is that tree you keep talking about? I told you
it wouldn’t work!”

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small
people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you,
too, can become great."
- Mark Twain

When you are in the transition phase of starting your own


company, it’s important to eliminate negative influences like this from
your life. If these people are friends or acquaintances of yours, simply
cut off all communication with them. They are holding you back (more
on this later). What if those people are your family, spouse, or closest
friends? The best policy in this case is to avoid discussing it with them as
much as you can. Better yet, just don’t even tell them what you are
64 Breaking Free

doing! Some people will probably write me angry letters for saying this,
but it must be said. Wait at least until your little tree has become a
sapling, strong enough to survive on its own, to tell those people who
might not understand what you are doing. At the same time, actively
seek out and surround yourself with people who do understand what
you’re trying to do. Other entrepreneurs, for example will help keep you
in the right mindset.
What’s important to keep in mind here is that your discouraging
family and friends don’t mean to sabotage you. They actually care for
you deeply. But your parent’s or spouse’s goals for your life are not
always in harmony with your goals for yourself. Often, from their
viewpoint it would be great (at least they think it would be great) if you
took the “safe” route of getting a good job from a large company with
decent benefits. Then they can sleep at night with plenty of certainty.
This might make you safe, but it will almost certainly guarantee a life of
mediocrity. Remember, that only those who dare to fail greatly ever
achieve greatly. If you are doing what everyone else is doing, there is
probably something wrong. After all, whose reality do you live in?
Theirs or your own? It’s time to stop caring what other people think.
You’ve only got one shot on this planet and my advice is to spend it
doing what you want, not what others expect of you. Even if they don’t
understand at first, they will eventually come to love you more for being
your true self and reaching your full potential.

A Negative Peer Group


Most people vastly underestimate the influence that their peer
group has on them. The old phrase “You are who you spend time with”
is true. Every good mother knows to encourage her child to play with
the good kids. If her child ever falls into the wrong group of friends, the
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 65

damage can be swift and drastic! As grown ups, we really aren’t very
different.
If you’ve ever played a sport, you’ve probably experienced this
first hand. Did you ever notice that when you played a team or
opponent that was far better than you, you played up to their level? Even
if you lost, you may have played the best game of your life. Likewise,
when you played a team or opponent with inferior skills, you played
sloppily and without focus. Even if you won, you knew it wasn’t your
best.
In The Psychology of Achievement, Brian Tracy talks about a study
done at Harvard where they tested just how powerful the peer group
actually is. What they found was astounding: one single factor, a negative
peer group, was enough to ensure a person would be unsuccessful no
matter what. Being around unsuccessful people virtually guaranteed you
would be like them!
Your goal should be to surround yourself with the people who
are closest to your ideal self. If you do this long enough with enough
people, you will automatically become more like them. It isn’t even a
conscious process most of the time, and even if you tried to fight it, it
would still happen.
Let’s try an experiment for a moment. Think of your five closest
friends and take the average of their incomes (guess if needed). I can
guarantee you that the number you came up with is remarkably close to
your own actual income! Financially unsuccessful people look at this and
say “I’d have wealthier friends if I could only earn more money!”
Financially successful people look at this and say “I’d earn more money if
I could only find some wealthier friends!”
Aside from finding successful people, you’ll also have to worry
about the unsuccessful ones holding you back. When you make the
66 Breaking Free

decision to quit your job and work for yourself, some people are going to
think you are crazy. Be prepared for it and expect it. This can have a big
effect on you, because they aren't going to be random people off the
street; it may be people someone who you love and respect. Your own
parents, significant other, or children may tell you that you are crazy!
The reasons behind this are many. Very few people take this
path, it isn’t the “safe” route, and we all fear change. Subconsciously,
people who are not living to their full potential may want you to fail in
this endeavor. If you become wildly successful, what are the implications
from their point of view? You would probably stop being friends with
them, they would look lazy or ineffective by comparison, and their model
of the world, which is filled with excuses as to why they can’t succeed
will be broken.
Ultimately however, the reasons why aren’t important. What’s
most important is to realize that what other people think doesn’t matter.
It’s up to you to decide who to listen to and who to ignore. It’s your
responsibility to decide for yourself.
In my own personal experience, I chose to listen to people who
were successful and had the life I wanted. They all told me to follow my
path in life and achieve my true purpose. I also got plenty of advice from
other people who didn’t have the life I wanted. Many of them told me the
opposite. In the end I chose to listen to those people who I most
wanted to be like, and quit my job to work for myself.

GETTING STARTED
Now that we’ve listed the reasons most people fail, let’s focus on
a more positive aspect: how to get started. Taking this scary step in your
life isn’t going to happen all at once. It’s not like jumping off a diving
board where you can build up the courage and just do it once. You are
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 67

going to be tested over and over again, and you will need to build up a
positive mindset that will stay with you day after day.
Believe me, I wish I could write some magic sentence on this
page that would instantly change your beliefs and mindset! But people
don’t operate like that. We are creatures of habit.
Beliefs are built up over time. Imagine a small stream that
bubbles up one day and forms a small trickle down a hillside. It wanders
downhill in no particular direction hitting rocks and trees, going around
them effortlessly. After a while, it starts to form a pattern and become
more consistent in what direction it takes. It starts to carve a little path
in the hillside, about an inch deep until almost 100% of the water is
flowing together. Overtime it builds up, getting water from other
sources such as nearby streams or seasonal rain. The path continues to
carve deeper and deeper into the mountain side. Years go by and it’s a
raging river. Finally one day we come upon it and it has carved a deep
canyon. Even the Grand Canyon was formed this way over millions of
years.
How is someone going to come along one day and change the
river flowing at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? They can’t, because it
has been so deeply ingrained over time. If they had caught it when it was
just a little trickle, barely an inch wide, one person could have easily
changed its course, but now it’s not so easy. The same is true of human
belief. If we have been thinking a particular way for some time, we can’t
change everything in one day.
However, we can still change the path of the river, little by little.
What if we came by each day and dumped a bucket of concrete near the
edge? At first it would have no effect whatsoever. But eventually it
would start to affect the river. A few years later we’d wake up and the
river would be flowing in a totally new direction.
68 Breaking Free

This is the solution! This is the way to change human beliefs.


Especially your beliefs about your own ability to work for yourself and be
successful. Three words that I would like you to remember are: constant
positive reinforcement.

CONSTANT POSITIVE
REINFORCEMENT
Each word is important. Constant, because it needs to happen
every day. Positive, because each time it needs to go in the right
direction. Reinforcement, because it slowly gets stronger and stronger
building on top of itself.
This is the way mountains are moved, and this is the way you
can create an unstoppable mindset toward achieving your goals. What
I’m telling you is that this book you are reading right now isn’t enough. I
would love to have people tell me that this book changed their life, but
what’s more likely is that this book will be a starting point where people
find out what they need to do each day to change their life. Or it will be
one more constant positive reinforcement in a long list that a successful
person is already using.
Imagine you read a book that gave you a new idea or way of
thinking. Maybe you enjoyed the book, agreed with the premise, and
even became excited and ready to take action! Then the next day you
would go to work, think about how much you don’t like your job, and
come home exhausted. Something would come up, new clients, a family
problem, financial issues, and you would delay your action, promising
yourself you would do it later. Each day you would continue to go to
work and be distracted by things that just don’t matter. Finally, a month
later, the “high” of the book would have worn off. It would still be in
the back of your mind, but something more important would always
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 69

seem to come up. Two months later, parts of the book would be
forgotten and you’d wonder if it really made sense, or if it was just some
fad you went through. Six months later, you would stop one day, realize
that nothing has changed, and accept the fact it just wasn’t for you.
Remember, we are creatures of habit. Just one exciting book
can’t possibly wage war against the tide of negative messages that are
telling you something different.
You will have to transform yourself into a permanent student for
the duration of your life, constantly feeding your brain with positive,
educational, and inspirational messages. Every single person that I know,
who I consider to be successful, follows this philosophy. Become a
permanent student throughout your life and never stop learning.
If you already read voraciously or discuss entrepreneurship on a
regular basis, then you are far ahead of most people. But if you are like
most of us, getting educational work done is something we often don’t
have time for. It gets left on the back burner. So I’m going to share with
you three of the best ways I know of to get more constant positive
reinforcement built into your life.

• Take a Speed Reading Course


Speed reading and speed comprehension are real. Most people who
take a speed reading course double or even triple their reading rate.
For a more inexpensive option, you can buy a speed reading book.
This takes discipline to actually do the exercises, but it can still work.
I did a half hour of speed reading exercises every day for a month,
and doubled my reading rate. This is an essential investment in
yourself that every person should make.
70 Breaking Free

• Create Your Positive Peer Group


Just being around the right people will serve as a great education and
inspire you to follow your dreams. Immediately stop spending time
with the people in your life now who aren’t helping you grow. Then
find new friends and mentors who are the right type of person. Go
to networking events and seminars, and pay for coaching. If you
meet someone who you think you could learn from, don’t be shy
about getting their card and following up with them. Buy them
lunch, pick their brain, and ask for their advice. You’ll be amazed at
who you will find to help you if you only ask.

• Start Listening to Audio Programs in Your Car


If I could pick one thing for you to start doing immediately this
would be it. Remember how I said we are creatures of habit? The
beauty of listening to audio programs in your car is that you always
have to drive. (Or if you live in a city with a subway, then you always
have time to listen there with an MP3 player.) If you get busy, or
forget, it’s easy to not be able to read as much as you’d like. But if
every time you start your engine, you have an audio program going,
then it’s impossible to forget. It’s automatically built into your daily
routine. According to Brian Tracy, most people spend 500 to 1000
hours in their car every year. This is equivalent to one or two
semesters at a university. Most people are sitting there listening to
advertisements on the radio or Britney Spears, wasting minutes and
hours of their life. I can’t emphasize this point enough. If you aren’t
listening to audio programs in your car, you quite simply aren’t
serious about being successful in life.
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 71

One important point to make here deals with what you are
actually going to listen to. Some people who I’ve given this advice to
have readily agreed and even started using it. But then I find they are
listening to fiction books or that they have stopped listening to music
and started listening to news or talk shows. This is a slight improvement,
but not nearly as effective as what they could be doing. Unless you are
studying to be a fiction writer or a news anchor, there are more effective
ways you could be using your time.
You need to be learning material in specific fields that will help
you accomplish your goals quickly. If you are reading this book, I
assume one of your goals is starting your own business. There are many
fine programs on this subject, which are listed through the book and in
the resource index at the end. Often, the more you learn, the more you
realize you need to learn. There are a wide variety of audio programs
available on marketing, relationships, psychology, writing, rocket science,
finance, and almost any other topic you can think of.

NO MATTER WHAT
This particular phrase is especially important. Something
magical happens when you make a decision to do something no matter
what. It no longer is something you should do, or want to do, it is
something you know you will do, period.
It may sound subtle, but the effect of this is actually quite
profound. You are making a declaration to your subconscious that this is
your new path, and your subconscious listens. Suddenly you will start to
notice things around you that that you never saw before. Events will
come up that you can change and take advantage of. You will wake up in
the morning with random ideas to help you on your path that you had
72 Breaking Free

never even considered before (your subconscious was working while you
slept).
As an example, lets say you decide you are going to quit your job
and start your own business no matter what. (Note: I’m not asking you to
actually commit right here, it’s merely an example.) If you made this
decision and were firmly committed, your subconscious would go to
work right away.
Maybe you’d be on your way to work one day, going through
your usual routine, and happen to notice a sign posted for a business plan
writing seminar. It had been there for months, and you’d never noticed.
At lunch you might overhear some people discussing a business idea, join
the conversation, and make a new friend with similar interests. You may
even depart with their business card and an invitation to join them at a
speaking event the next week. On the way home you could pass the local
bookstore and notice a book in the window written by the same author
you’ve been listening to in your car.
All these things were happening around you already, but you
never noticed them. How could this be? Well, you weren’t fully
committed and focused on starting a business yet. The universe has a
strange way of bringing the very things we think about the most into our
life. If you think every day about being a successful business owner, then
eventually it will just happen as more and more opportunities come into
your life.
The critical first step is making that firm commitment to do it no
matter what. Tony Robbins, a speaker and author, describes this as the
difference between a should and a must. If you tell yourself constantly that
you should go exercise, then you probably won’t do it regularly. It is
optional. The very word itself, should, implies a chance it won’t even
happen! On the other hand, if you tell yourself you must make it to the
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 73

gym no matter what, then it ceases to become optional. As you tell


yourself this over and over, it becomes ingrained as a priority in your life.
You start to view yourself as a person who always exercises regularly.
Not to do so would break your identity and sense of who you are as a
person!
Similarly, avoid words like trying. “I’m trying to quit smoking.”
“I’m trying to exercise more.” “I’m trying to start a business.” How
weak does that sound! If you just try, then by definition there’s a chance
you will fail. If you do it no matter what, then failure isn’t an option.
You will keep on persisting until you accomplish your goal. You aren’t
trying, you are doing it no matter what. Remember the character Yoda from
the Star Wars movies? He said,, "Do or do not, there is no try”. This
subtle shift in thinking and how you talk to yourself4 may sound silly if
you’ve never heard of it before. That is fine. You don’t have to
understand it or even fully believe in it right now, but I know that it
worked for me and countless others, so you may want to try it as well.
Some people will tell you that playing it safe and having a backup
plan is just good planning. But sometimes this can actually be self
destructive. Let’s say you decided you wanted to quit your job and work
for yourself, but you weren’t entirely sure it would work out. You
decided to play it safe by holding on to your old job just in case. We call
this “hedging your bets”. In other words, you didn’t fully commit to one
outcome.
How well would it work? Well, while starting this business,
you’d be forced to make some sacrifices. Your time would be severely
limited. In fact, the only time you would have to work on your new
business would be when you come home exhausted from your primary

4 See Chad Helmstetter’s famous book “What to say when you talk to yourself”
74 Breaking Free

job. When you do get work done, you wouldn’t be at your peak and it
would take time away from your family. Most likely, you would just be
too tired in the evening and end up watching TV instead of working.
During the day, you wouldn’t be able to discuss your new business at
work with anyone, just in case word got back to the boss. The entire
business would just be a distant second to your regular life. What
percent of your day do think you would truthfully spend thinking about
being self employed? There would simply be too many other
responsibilities to be able to commit fully. In a situation like this, playing
it safe and hedging your bets may very well cost you your primary goal.
If you want to have a backup plan, then have a backup plan for
how you will still accomplish your primary goal: being self employed. In
other words, if you want to hedge your bets, have multiple products,
numerous sales channels to market your product, cash reserves, and
another entire business idea in your back pocket in case things don’t
work out. Don’t have a backup plan in case you never accomplish your
primary goal at all! This is a surefire way to sabotage everything you are
working toward.

ONE STEP AT A TIME


Sure, quitting your job will be a big undertaking that will be scary
at times. You’ll have self doubt running all over you! But if you can take
one thing away from this chapter it is this: just start taking small steps in
the right direction, and worry about the rest later. Sure, you’ll one day
have to take the big step of actually quitting, but you can build up to it
with plenty of smaller steps before taking the plunge.
Most people do the opposite of this and fall into one of two
categories. The first category are those people who assume they have it
all figured out and jump in right away with both feet! They overestimate
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 75

their ability and quickly sink to the bottom. The second category of
people are so risk averse they never act at all! This is probably a much
bigger category, and for these people their fear is paralyzing. They have
the best of intentions but never change anything. The secret is to fall
somewhere in between these two groups by taking small steps. By taking
small steps you are minimizing risk and learning as you go, while still
making progress.
Eventually, you’ll have more confidence, you’ll have learned
more than you can possibly imagine, and you will have changed your
entire mindset. You will be focused, determined, resilient, and have all
the tools at your disposal. The day you finally quit your job and strike
out on your own, a sense of calm will come over you as you walk out the
door because you will know you made the right decision. A year later,
you will look back and see how far you’ve come. You’ll hardly even
recognize yourself!
It really is ironic, but as with many things in life, quitting your
job to work for yourself is a mental game. The logistics and physical
steps are not difficult. Anyone can do it. But very few ever do because
the greatest obstacles are the ones we create in our own mind. I have
confidence in you that you will overcome all obstacles in your path to
accomplish this goal, if you decide it’s what you really want.
As always, please take the time to jot down in a few notes in the
exercises on the next page. This is an essential step of reading this book.
Please don’t skip it!
76 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 3 EXERCISES
List five people in your life right now who may be a negative influence or
don’t share your vision of quitting your job and being self employed?
(Note: if you fear them finding this, you can use code words or nick
names, or write it on a separate sheet.)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

You may want to cut these people out of your life, severely limit your
time with them, or simply not tell them about your dreams if you have to
be near them!

Who do you admire and respect? Who would you like to be more like if
you could have any life? Who do you think you could learn from?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

You may want to make an effort to spend more time with these people.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to meet with them or find
more people like them.
Building the Confidence to Take the Scary Step 77

What are five ways you could bring constant positive reinforcement to
your life? How could you hear a message daily that would inspire,
education, and motivate you toward your goal of working for yourself?
1. I’m going to fill this one in for you. Go right now to
www.amazon.com (or your favorite book store) and purchase an
audio program called The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracy. I
make no money from this, and it is merely one of many good audio
programs, but the single greatest gift you can give yourself in this
area is to get started listening to audio programs in your car as you
commute and go about driving every day. If you are going to do one
thing on this list, make it this one!
2.
3.
4.
5.

How are you “hedging your bets” and playing it safe when it comes to
quitting your job and working for yourself? Are you only partially
committed? Please list a few ways.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
78 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 3 SUMMARY
• Quitting your job will be scary.
• There will be anxiety (a.k.a. excitement).
• Become comfortable with anxiety, it means you are about to learn
something.
• Your brain will invent excuses constantly. Say “Thank you for
sharing” and continue.
• Why most people fail.
o Addicted to comfort and routine.
o Lack of self confidence.
 Action eliminates fear, start small.
 Be competent, not confident.
o An external locus of control.
o Parents & loved one’s expectations.
o A negative peer group.
• We are creatures of habit.
• Beliefs are built up over time like a stream carving the Grand
Canyon.
• We can’t change it instantly; it must be done slowly over time.
• Use Constant Positive Reinforcement.
o Speed reading
o Positive peer group
o Audio programs in your car
• Deciding to do it no matter what, don’t hedge your bets.
• Take small steps in the right direction.
Chapter 4
Taking the Pay Cut

“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind”


-Aristotle

I t’s time to talk about how you are going to handle your
finances during the process of quitting your job. This is an
important topic because it is the lingering excuse many people use to
explain why they can’t quit their job and get their business going!
The unfortunate reality is that most people go through life
without knowing the first thing about how to manage their finances.
This is a subject that I truly believe should be taught in school, but so far
it hasn’t happened. Poor people don’t know how to manage money, so
they pass on what hasn’t worked for them to their children who grow up
poor. Rich people teach their children how to be rich, so their children
grow up rich.
This isn’t a book on money management, but I’m going to
address it here because it is a major factor in how hard it will be to get
your business going. At the beginning, your business finances and
personal finances will be one and the same. Later you will separate them
80 Breaking Free

(Chapter 7), but the principles will remain much the same. The main
problem is that most people spend what money they earn. This sounds
innocent enough, but in reality, this is a major reason for why people
never become wealthy. When poor people get a raise, they celebrate by
instantly going out and getting a nicer car. They take on debt to finance
their house, cars, vacations, credit card expenses, etc. Ultimately they
end up in a rat race where they can never get ahead and they are forced to
keep working their same job because they have so many bills to pay to
just to survive!
Rich people, on the other hand, save at least 15% of their
income and never touch it. This money is then reinvested into income
generating assets (real estate, mutual funds, businesses, etc) until one day
they have enough income coming in that they can stop working, and still
have an income. Because they have assets, they can afford to start a
business. They aren’t living paycheck to paycheck like the majority of
people!
Poor people work for money. Rich people have money work for
them. Poor people believe what they earn is there to spend. Rich people
believe what they earn is there to invest.
For more information on this topic, some excellent books to
read are Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, The Millionaire Next Door
by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, Harv Eker’s programs on
building wealth, and The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. Better
yet, get them as audio programs and listen to them when you are done
with Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Achievement.
If you haven’t been building wealth for the long term, don’t
worry. Most people who start their own business don’t have much
excess cash lying around. The word entrepreneur, almost by definition,
means you are getting things going any way you can! Beg, borrow, and
Taking the Pay Cut 81

steal just to get the first product out. Many famous stories exist of big
name entrepreneurs who started with almost nothing and pulled
themselves up by the bootstraps. So don’t worry, my intent here is to
provide you with practical advice that will help you right now to get things
started. At the same time you can change your personal finance habits
and start making big changes for your future.
When you quit your job to start your own business, you will
most likely be taking a pay cut in the short term to earn more down the
road. There are a lucky few who quit and earn more in their first year
working for themselves than they did at their old job. This is great when
it happens, but we shouldn’t assume it will. Don’t be rash and quit
without a plan in mind. That would be foolish and you could quickly find
yourself in a difficult situation. Luckily, there are a number of ways to
make this transition fairly easy, and I’m going to tell you the three best
ones right now.
The basic strategies involved in smoothly taking a pay cut are (1)
don’t quit your job yet, (2) get a different job with more flexible hours,
and (3) save up enough to survive for six months with no income while
at the same time spending less. One or a combination of these can be
used and we will cover each one in detail.

THREE WAYS TO MAKE AN EASY


TRANSITION

1. Keep your current job a little bit longer


It’s never a good idea to be rash, so don’t quit your job quite yet!
One of the best ways to get things going is to start your business up in
your free time by operating on nights and weekends. This will allow you
to make the initial steps and get your confidence going.
82 Breaking Free

In fact, in an ideal world, you will be generating enough money


in your new business on the side that your current job’s income becomes
small by comparison. Wouldn’t that make it easy to quit!
I know people that have actually had that work for them. They
have slowly built their business in their free time, gotten potential
customers lined up and ready to go, then at the last minute made a
beautiful transition by quitting their job and closing their first sale in the
same day!
A note of caution: be very careful about taking either customers
or employees away from your current employer when you leave to work
on your business. Many companies today have you sign a non-compete
agreement which could land you in big trouble. Start your new business
ethically, or you might get a chance to see how you look in stripes!
If working till the day you have money coming in sounds good
to you then by all means go for it! Even if it doesn’t work, you will at
least have made huge progress before actually quitting.
Often, the time it takes between first starting a business and
making profit can be quite substantial. So the goal is to get as close to
actually earning profit as you can.
If you use this strategy, at a certain point you may find yourself
becoming frustrated by your lack of progress on your new business. I
know that when I was starting my company, it was often difficult. I
would come home from a long day of work at the office and be
absolutely exhausted. I would get some work done occasionally, but it
wasn’t my best work since I was already tired. The weekends were
better, affording a few hours here and there. In fact, I was able to make
serious progress over time using this method (and made it through a
large number of steps discussed in Chapter 7). But for me it was very
Taking the Pay Cut 83

frustrating to make such slow progress. During the week all I thought
about was the time I could be spending on my new company!
Eventually I had to quit my job to be able to work full time, and
never looked back. Use this method to get as far as you can down the
road to starting your business.

2. Get a different job


If your current job has you working overtime or involves
extensive traveling, you may want to get another one. This solution
offers the best of both worlds because you will still have a steady income,
but you will have more time to work on your business!
This is especially true for people whose jobs currently have them
working long hours. It will be tough to start your business on nights and
weekends if your boss already has you coming in on nights and
weekends!
I’ve listed some alternative jobs below that could help bring you
income while you start your business. Keep in mind that it may be
worthwhile to briefly take on a position that is “beneath you” to get
ahead in the long run. Even if the job pays you less hourly, or isn’t
respected as much as your current job, it may be just what you need: part
time work that gives you time to accomplish your primary objective.

• Tutor
Most people have some sort of skill that would allow them to work
part time as a tutor. If you did well in any particular subject in
school, your job required special knowledge, or if you speak a foreign
language, then you could tutor others.
84 Breaking Free

Tutoring is one of the best part time jobs because your hours are
flexible and you can charge very substantial rates.

Every city in the world is full of students who need help in algebra,
chemistry, physics, writing, grammar, spelling, general study skills,
organization, speaking English, learning a foreign language, preparing
for the SAT, economics, psychology, accounting, statistics, and
more.

Many parents are willing to pay excellent hourly rates to ensure their
child’s success (rates from $45/hour and up are not uncommon).

How does one begin working as a tutor? Post flyers at local high
schools, put an advertisement in a PTA newsletter, or send an email
to all your friends asking them to forward it to anyone they know
with children. But probably the single most effective way you could
find work as a tutor is to make a simple one page website, with your
credentials, experience, photo, hours, rates, busy schedule, and an
easy way to get in touch with you. Then start getting potential
customers to your site by advertising with Google
(adwords.google.com). In less than a month and for less than $100
you will have clients and a side income.

• Bartender
If you like to stay up late, this is a good alternative job because it has
odd hours. You will still be able to work a full 40 hour week on your
new business and bring in some extra money in the evenings and
weekends.
Taking the Pay Cut 85

Bartenders earn $100-$300 per night, or about $1 per drink, and


many bartenders don’t report their cash earnings to the IRS (in
essence, receiving tax free income).

To find work as a bartender, you may want to seek out a bartender


training school in your area. They will bring you up to speed and
provide you with job leads once you’ve graduated the course (usually
two weekends or one week). You may also need to get certified by
the state.

• Help Desk
Providing technical support or answering phones is a great
alternative job to have. It’s great because you are often left with
nothing to do for long periods of time (and often have access to a
computer). Don’t apply to a job that will keep you busy all day long.
Then it will just be tedious! Try to get a feel for how busy you might
be by visiting the facility at different times or discreetly asking others
who work there. Any job such as this can provide you with a lot of
time to study and plan your business while still getting paid.

College campuses are full of jobs like this and many IT help desk
positions carry these same advantages.

• Work Part Time


Another great option is to stay at your current company, but work
part time. Don’t assume your boss will say yes or no until you’ve
asked them. You never know. You don’t have to tell them “I’d like
to work less so I can spend more time on my own business”. This
might not help your relationships at the office. Instead, just tell them
86 Breaking Free

it is for personal reasons. You are under no obligation to give a full


explanation.

Save up enough money to live for six months before quitting


If you already have sufficient savings, then you are one of the
lucky few! Quit your job and live off your savings while you get started.
But if you are like most people who start companies, money is
tight! Living for six months without any income would spell eviction. If
you fall in to this category, don’t despair. By following the strategy below
you can build enough income to survive for six months or more.
The key to saving income is to take a percentage out before you
ever have a chance to spend it. Don’t make the mistake of telling
yourself you’ll save whatever is left at the end of the month. There will
never be anything left!
Instead, take 10% out of every paycheck that you receive and
put it into a special separate account specifically designated for when you
will quit your job.
Most people can survive on 90% of their income, but if money
is really tight, then just start with taking out 1%. The most important part
is to build the habit (remember what type of creatures we are?). Everyone
can save 1% no matter what state you are in financially. Eventually,
bump it up to 2%, then 3% and you will soon get to 10%. Chances are,
you probably won’t even notice that 10% missing! When it’s in your
bank account it’s easy to spend. It won’t be there at the end of the
month, and you won’t be sure where it went. At the same time, taking it
out before you have a chance to spend it will ensure it is safely tucked
away, and you won’t even miss it.
Taking the Pay Cut 87

After you’ve reached the point of saving 10% of your income,


bump it up to 15% and higher as your income increases. Many self-made
millionaires save 50% or more of their income each year! This is how
they continue to build wealth.
Where should you put the money? I recommend putting it into
a high yield savings account. Personally, I use ING Direct
www.ingdirect.com which currently has a 4.5% interest rate. This is far
above the national average, and remember, it’s a savings account so you
can move money in and out of it any time you’d like. In fact, many CD’s
that require a one year commitment can’t match 4.5% right now! ING
Direct is able to pay this rate because they are an online bank without any
branches. You still know your money is safe, however, because they are
FDIC insured. That means the U.S. federal government is guaranteeing
your money. Using a high yield savings account will continue to earn
your interest, rewarding you for being smart enough to save. Once you
have more money to invest you can look into stocks, mutual funds, and
real estate.
One important point to remember is that saving money brings
you compounding interest. Some people find it discouraging to think about
saving $100 per month, only to be left with $1200 at the end of the year.
“What good is $1200?” they ask. “How will that help me live for six
months?” They are forgetting the power of compounding interest,
which allows $100 per month to turn into far more than the sum of its
parts.
What if I told you that every day for a month I’d give you some
pennies. The first day I’d give you one penny, the second day two, the
third day four, and it would continue to double each day for a month.
“So what?” you might say. “How much could you possibly be giving
me?” A few dollars? Ten? A couple hundred?
88 Breaking Free

It turns out that that by the end of the month I would have paid
you more than $10 million in total! How can this be? After the first
week you would have only received a dollar and some change, but by
then end of the month it turned into $10 million?
Behold the power of compounding interest. Even Albert Einstein
once said that “The most powerful force in the universe is compound
interest”. Of course your money won’t be doubling every day like our
example above, but you should at least be able to earn a 10% return on
your investment1! Start saving today, and do so for the rest of your life.
Reinvest what you earn. This is the secret of wealth that the rich have
known for centuries, and it will give you the cash reserves to start any
business you’d like.
Of course, one crucial question we must answer is: How much
should I save? We will now answer that question.

HOW MUCH MONEY DO I REALLY


NEED?
There is no need to make a guess here and estimate how much
money you will need. It is actually quite simple to determine. Please go
through the following exercise to find out how much money you really
need to live off.
Take a moment to list your monthly expense for each of the
following:

Housing

1 ING Direct will pay you 4.5% for now risk free, but by investing in index funds and real
estate, you should be able to earn at least 10% over the long run. If you don’t feel
comfortable investing, speak with a financial planner you trust.
Taking the Pay Cut 89

Rent/Mortgage $ _____________
Home Insurance/Property Tax $ _____________
Home Owner’s Association Dues $ _____________
Electricity/Gas $ _____________
Water $ _____________
Telephone $ _____________
Internet $ _____________
Cable TV $ _____________
Cleaning/Gardening/Pool/Security/Garbag
e Removal
$ _____________
Other Housing Costs $ _____________

Transportation
Car Payments $ _____________
Gas $ _____________
Parking $ _____________
Car Insurance $ _____________
Car Maintenance $ _____________
Subway or Train $ _____________
Other Transportation $ _____________

Living
Groceries $ _____________
Clothing $ _____________
Cell Phone $ _____________
Laundry/Dry Cleaning $ _____________
Hair Care/Hygiene $ _____________
Child Care/Support $ _____________
90 Breaking Free

Pet Care $ _____________

Health
Health/Life Insurance $ _____________
Doctor/Dentist Visits $ _____________
Prescriptions $ _____________
Gym Membership/Exercise Classes/Sports $ _____________

Entertainment
Restaurants $ _____________
Bars & Nightclubs $ _____________
Smoking $ _____________
Movies $ _____________
Gambling $ _____________
Music (concerts, CD’s, mp3’s) $ _____________
Shows $ _____________
Video Games $ _____________
Magazines $ _____________

Vacations
Plane Flights $ _____________
Hotels $ _____________
Taxi $ _____________
Meals $ _____________

Debt/Investments
Credit Card Debt $ _____________
Student Loans $ _____________
Taking the Pay Cut 91

Automatic Savings $ _____________

Taxes (annual divided by 12)


Federal $ _____________
State $ _____________

Education (yourself or children)


Books $ _____________
Tuition $ _____________
Classes and Seminars $ _____________

Giving
Donations to Charity/Church $ _____________
Gifts $ _____________

Monthly Total $ _____________


Six Month Savings Goal $ _____________
Figure 3 – Discover your monthly expenses.

Please total your monthly expenses. Multiplying this number by


six will give you your savings goal. If it seems a bit large, don’t worry we
will discuss cutting expenses later on.
If the business you want to start requires some initial investment,
you will add it to this number. Startup costs will be discussed in chapter
6 (starting a business probably costs much less than you expect).
You will now need to create a separate bank account to keep
your savings. Don’t mix it in with your usual checking account because it
will be more difficult to keep track of and you might be tempted to
spend it! Many bank accounts today allow you to name the account or
92 Breaking Free

label it somehow in online banking. This is a great idea. Name it


something like “Entrepreneurship Fund” and put the actual amount that
you are going to save. So if my monthly expenses totaled $1000, I would
name my account “Entrepreneurship Fund - $6000”. Then each month
I would take 10% of my paycheck and deposit it into this account before
I ever had a chance to spend it.
Studies have shown over and over again that if your goal is
measurable and written down then you are far more likely to achieve it. So
please take advantage of this by naming the actual account with your
goal. You can write it down right on the bank statement if the bank
won’t let you label the account. Just write it each month on the
statement – “Entrepreneurship Fund - $6000” – and file it away.
Meanwhile, your compounding interest will be working while you sleep
to bring you closer and closer to your goal.
Remember, you will need to take the 10% out (or whatever you
are starting with) before you have a chance to spend it. If you deposit
your paychecks or cash at the bank, then make sure each time to calculate
10% of your total deposit and write the check right then to transfer the
funds into your Entrepreneurship Fund. Or if you use online banking,
you can setup the funds transfer right from your home computer. If
your current employer automatically deposits your money right into your
bank account, then call your bank to set up an automatic funds transfer.
This will make the transfer happen automatically without any action on
your part. The key is to reinforce the habit so that 10% comes out
before you have a chance to spend it. Whether you do it manually by
transferring the funds yourself every two weeks, or set up an automatic
funds transfer with your bank, is entirely up to you.
If you would like to get your financial life organized in general,
one program I will recommend is T. Harv Eker’s Millionaire Mind
Taking the Pay Cut 93

program. You can get it as an audio program to listen to in your car, and
it will change your entire relationship with money. You will no longer be
a spender or penny pincher (both are equally bad). Most importantly,
instead of working for money, you will start to have your money work
for you.
If you are a spender (buying things on a whim even when you
can’t afford it) then you can listen to programs such as the one I just
mentioned to get that part of your life handled. If you are a saver (cheap,
and feeling guilty whenever you spend money) this can also be a
destructive habit and deserves attention. Likewise, if you have any
negative beliefs about money (such as “Money is the root of all evil”) or
deep down feel as if you don’t deserve money, you should also address
this with programs like the Millionaire Mind.
Again, many people find that their own inner beliefs are what is
limiting them the most.

A NOTE ON HOW TO LIVE


FRUGALLY
Finally, we must address the topic of how you can cut your
expenses. Especially if the number you came up with in the monthly
expense calculator was a little scary!
When I first started learning about this topic, I resisted it. “I
shouldn’t have to give anything up to get ahead, I’m already poor!” So if
you’re in the same boat, you aren’t alone. You don’t have to give up
anything; the decision is yours of course. But it may help you out quite a
bit. We always hate to give up what we’re used to, but if we’ve never
experienced it, then we don’t miss it. Some fine books exist on the topic
of spending money wisely, and one I recommend you read is The
Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.
94 Breaking Free

The book eloquently makes the point that millionaires are not
the people you think. They are not the people driving around in flashy
new cars or visibly displaying their wealth. Instead, most millionaires buy
used cars and live modestly. Many children of millionaires aren’t even
aware they are wealthy until it comes time to inherit.
I was spending some time in Dallas, TX when I first became
aware of the term “thirty-thousand dollar millionaire”. Being an image
conscious city, this was the term coined for those people who earned a
modest living and were trying to live above their means. While they sped
around the city in their new Range Rover with spinning rims, they were
slowly being buried alive in debt.
Most people live a form of this lifestyle, even if it isn’t quite as
extreme. When they get a raise at work, they immediately go out and buy
a nicer car. They are always living right on the edge of what they earn,
leaving nothing to save or invest.
One of the worst decisions you can make financially is to
purchase a new car. It loses about 25% of its value the minute you drive
it off the lot. Instead, purchase a used car with low miles, and don’t get
stuck making car payments if you can help it. Get a car that you can
actually afford by paying cash for it up front. Don’t take on any new
debt! If you can’t afford to pay cash for it, you should probably purchase
a cheaper car.
Remember, financially unsuccessful people aren’t able to plan
for the future because they spend what money they make. Entrepreneurs
are able to plan for the future by saving what they earn instead of
spending it.
This may seem unrelated to starting a new business, but it
actually isn’t. Can you imagine how much more difficult it would be to
quit your job when you are living one paycheck away from bankrupcy?
Taking the Pay Cut 95

The car payments and rent are taking up such a large percentage of your
income each month that you really can’t afford to make less money. In
essence, you become a slave to your job, unable to leave. You can’t
afford to miss this month’s car payments, credit card payments, and rent,
so you can’t afford to quit your job. You are stuck.
If you’ve made some financial mistakes in the past, don’t dwell
on it or get discouraged. Nobody gets it perfect, and you can be sure to
make plenty more mistakes along this journey. What is important is that
you now know the way out and have started building a new habit. Live
below your means and save as much as you can! If you think its too late
to start saving now, just think what you’ll feel like in five years knowing
you could have started today, but didn’t!
As a final note about reducing your expenses, it is very possible
to take it too far in the opposite direction. Becoming a fanatical saver
will simply make you feel guilty every time you spend money. You can’t
enjoy life that way! If you don’t reward yourself for every small success
along the way, you can eventually become discouraged and disillusioned
with the whole process.
The secret to minimizing risk when starting a business is
financial responsibility. Try staying at your old job while you start your
company to keep money coming in, or get a job with more flexible
hours, and start spending less than you earn today. Set up an
“Entrepreneurship Fund” account with six months of cash reserves, and
promise to quit when it’s full. This will allow you to invest for your
future by saving up enough money to quit your job and work for
yourself.
96 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 4 EXERCISES
Try to list five specific times during the week you could set aside to work
on starting your company, even if you were still at your current job.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

If your current job involves many long hours, try to write five alternative
jobs you could take on that would give you more time. If you get stuck,
list jobs that sound interesting and fun compared to your current job.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

List five expenses or liabilities you could reduce or eliminate from your
life that would allow you to save more money in your Entrepreneurship
fund, and achieve your six month savings goal.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Taking the Pay Cut 97

CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY
• Don’t let the problem of taking a temporary pay cut be your excuse!
• Rich people save at least 15% of their income before they ever have
a chance to spend it.
o Poor people work for money, and rich people have money
work for them.
o Poor people think what they earn is what they have to
spend. Rich people think what they earn is what they have
to invest.
• There are three strategies to use when quitting your job.
o Stay at your current job as long as you can, getting work on
your business done during nights, weekends, or any free
moment.
o Get a different job that requires fewer hours each week.
 Tutor/Consultant
 Bartender
 Help Desk
 Part Time at your Current Job
o Save up enough money to live for six months without
income.
 Start saving 10% of your income into a separate
high yield savings account, your Entrepreneurship
Fund.
• By using the provided form, you can calculate how much money you
actually need each month to live on.
• Strive to spend less money and don’t get caught in the “rate race” by
incurring debt.
98 Breaking Free

• Remember The Millionaire Next Door and “The $30,000 Millionaire”.


o They both drive the same car, but one bought it used and
paid in full while the other bought it new and is up to his
ears in debt.
• When you get a raise, don’t spend more, save and invest more.
• Use different bank accounts to allocate your income on luxuries,
education, travel, necessities, and saving for the future. This takes
the guess work out and removes guilt for spending.
• Spending less than you earn is the secret to having enough money to
start your own business and become wealthy.
Chapter 5
Finding Your Path and
Purpose in Life
“A man must be prepared to give 100% to his purpose...He must
be capable of not knowing what to do with his life, entering a
period of unknowingness and waiting for a vision or a new form of
purpose to emerge. These cycles of strong specific action followed by
periods of not knowing what the hell is going on are natural for a
man who is shedding layers of karma on his relaxation into
truth.”
-David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

S o you’ve learned how to start saving and make the


transition, but what type of business should you start?
The next step in the process is one of the most difficult, because there is
not a clear ending where you can say “I’ve got it!” Instead, it will be a
journey to follow over time, full of twists and turns. You will be
continually getting closer, but there won’t be a specific moment when
you have can say “I made it, game over”.
To clarify, when we discuss “your path in life” in this chapter,
we are trying to discover some important things. We are trying to find
100 Breaking Free

what your highest values are, what makes you happiest, what you are well
suited for, and what you have the potential to be the best in the world at!
All of these will help you determine what type of business you should
start, or what type of work is right for you.
These might sound like some rather tough questions to answer,
but believe me it’s worth it. The alternative is to be like everyone else,
making their way through life one day at a time without a clear goal or
purpose in mind. We must break the habit of purely reacting to external
events all the time (an external locus of control), instead choosing to
create our own reality. Make no mistake about it; this chapter is designed
to do nothing less than help you find the purpose of your life.
Why is it so important to find the purpose of your life or “be on
the path” as I like to say? Well there are a number of reasons, but they
can all be summarized with the following statement: if you aren’t on your
path in life, you can never be completely happy. Let’s take a closer look
at four reasons to give your purpose some serious thought: fulfillment,
relationships, excitement, and significance.

FULFILLMENT
Fulfillment is one of those words with a rather murky definition.
It’s a feeling that can’t really be quantified. Imagine yourself at your
current job now. Are you fulfilled? Instinctively you can probably say
“no” or “not all the time”, but why do you feel this way? The answer lies
in whether you feel like you are contributing, whether you are growing as
a person, whether you are using your best skills, and whether the work is
easy or hard.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 101

Low Skill High Skill

Low Difficulty Unimportant Boring

High Difficulty Frustrating Fulfillment

Figure 4 – The balance of skill and difficulty.

Stephen Covey spoke of this work classification in his book, The


Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If you look at the diagram above you
will see four categories of work you could be doing. On the top is listed
your skill level, or how proficient you are in the skills needed for the job.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but here low or high skill refers
to one particular skill needed for the task at hand, not your overall ability.
On the side is listed the difficulty of the problem, whether it is hard to do
or not.
If you aren’t very skilled in a particular area and the problem is easy,
you will most likely still be able to make your way through it. You will
finish the work, but you won’t be fulfilled. Imagine you are a world class
chef hired to cater a party, but when you got there the host had already
ordered out and asked you just to help valet the cars. The task isn’t very
difficult, and you would be able to complete it, but you sure wouldn’t feel
very important. You have high skills in other areas that you aren’t even
getting a chance to use! You have so much you could contribute, if only
someone would give you a chance. If you are in this category, you will
most likely begin to experience a feeling of unimportance or
insignificance. Your time and energy is being wasted on menial tasks.
You’re really only average at what they’ve asked you to do, so the fact
you’ve been asked to do it means the results aren’t very important.
102 Breaking Free

If you still aren’t very skilled and someone comes along to give you
a difficult problem, things don’t get much better. Your feeling of
unimportance goes away because you are dealing with more meaningful
work, but you will quickly become frustrated. “Why do they keep giving
me this when they know it’s not my area of expertise?”, you might say.
What if our absent minded host from above had asked you to perform a
magic show for the guests instead of preparing your exquisite cuisine?
Magic isn’t your area of expertise either, but it’s a more difficult task than
parking cars. Your magic show would probably be mediocre at best
compared to the exceptional meal you had planned and trained for. This
would leave you feeling guilty for your poor work and frustrated at how
difficult it was to complete.
If you are finally given work that you are very skilled at, but it isn’t
very difficult, you will quickly become bored. This would be like the host
hiring you, the world class chef, and only asking you to make microwave
popcorn! Cooking is certainly your area of expertise, but your skills
won’t be utilized and you won’t feel challenged. This type of work can
quickly lead to boredom.
These above examples are a bit contrived to make a point, but
they take place everyday in offices around the world. Workers are
frequently matched with tasks they don’t care do be doing, aren’t
qualified to be doing, and are wasting their time by doing. Fortunately,
there is an ideal to strive for here: challenging work that is well matched to your
skill level. This is the area of fulfillment! Here you will be in the perfect
balance where you are challenged, but still able to produce excellent
results. Your skills are being utilized on important tasks and your
contribution is truly valuable.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 103

FINDING LOVE
I bet you didn’t expect to see this in a book about quitting your
job, did you! The truth of the matter is that a person on their path in life
is infinitely more attractive to the opposite sex than someone who isn’t.
Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you can hear the passion in someone’s
voice about what they are working on, you can’t help but get excited
about it too. I’ve had friends that were involved in hobbies I found
downright boring, like painting and board games. But listening to them
talk about it, and after seeing how excited it made them, I couldn’t help
but feel a little bit of the same. The reality is that anything can be fun if
you’re in the right atmosphere.
If you aren’t convinced yet, simply consider the alternative.
How attractive is it to be around a person who constantly complains
about their work, their terrible boss, and the next task they are absolutely
dreading? What a depressing life! “If you hate it so much, why don’t you
quit!” you might say. But of course they never will, because they are
addicted to their struggle. That is “their story” and the excuse they have
been using for why they haven’t achieved more. If they were to give up
that excuse, then they might have to actually take a risk and try
succeeding!
In fact, I’m convinced today that one reason for the high divorce
rate we’ve seen in this country is that people’s mates aren’t “on their
path” in life. It’s impossible to stay attracted to someone who is living a
mediocre life and is afraid to change it. Please don’t be that person!

EXCITEMENT
Another reason it’s so important to find your purpose in life is
that it is just downright exciting! So many people who have gone
104 Breaking Free

through this exercise end up telling me things like “This is going to


sound strange, but I just feel happy all the time”. They will end up
working the entire weekend, not because they have to, but because it was
just so exciting they couldn’t put it down.
For someone who has worked their whole life for someone else
at a job they don't love, this can actually be quite difficult to grasp or
believe. The idea that work can be really fun doesn’t compute inside
their head. “Work” and “fun” just haven’t been together in the same
sentence before. It’s like telling a fish how fun it will be to walk on land;
they’ve never even been outside the fish bowl, so imagining walking on
land is outside their model of the world. Find a job doing what you love,
and you’ll never “work” another day of your life.

SIGNIFICANCE
If you aren’t on your path in life, constantly striving to find out
what your purpose is, then there will probably be a shadow hanging over
your life. This shadow will be the unconscious feeling that your life is
simply unimportant.
What a sad thought, that if you were to disappear tomorrow,
maybe no one would really notice or care. No great project would come
to a halt, no one would wonder who they would turn to now that you are
gone, and in time you would be forgotten. If your life truly is
unimportant, and you aren’t contributing to the world in some way, this
shadow will follow you around until it consumes you on the day you die.
It’s time to break free! The solution is simple: bring significance
to your life by finding what you were born to do.
The minute you decide to work toward a greater purpose than
yourself is the minute you decide to start down the path toward
happiness. The truth is that many people, once they find their purpose,
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 105

discover it mostly involves helping others. This is one of those clichés


that is true. You may find that your purpose in life is to heal others, to
teach others, to help them achieve financial independence, to help them
get in better shape, to help them find love, to help them overcome the
pain of their childhood, or to help them become better parents.
A friend of mine had been through an amazing life at the age of
45 by anyone’s standards. He had done seven years in the FBI, traveled
the world, been a diplomat on several continents, and earned a small
fortune in the banking industry. Every Sunday when he woke up in
some developing foreign country, he would miss his family back home.
One day he decided to cook a huge breakfast and take it to the orphaned
homeless children who lived at the dump outside of town. They lived
there because that was the only way they could find food, foraging
through the trash, day in and day out. Every Sunday he would bring
them breakfast until one day he realized it had become the most exciting
day of his week. He was working all week with important men in
expensive business suits, but his most exciting time was spent with
homeless orphaned children. One day he realized that his path in life at
that time, the place he could be the most significant, was not in the
banking industry. In his words, all he was doing was “making a rich man
richer”. Instead, his purpose was to help these children, and he poured
all his energy into it.
Within a year, my friend had quit his job, and developed a
product that would help improve illiteracy, health, and a number of other
issues in the developing world. It was solar powered light that could be
charged during the day and used at night. It provided free light to towns
across the developing world that had no electricity. Instead of burning
expensive kerosene or dangerous brush fires for light at night, people
were now able to have electricity. Soon, there were thousands of these
106 Breaking Free

lights around the globe. Children were able to do their homework at


night, security was improved in refugee camps, and entire families pulled
themselves out of poverty, no longer dependent on kerosene lanterns.
My friend had found his purpose, and you should have seen him, excited
as a little kid in a candy store. He had never been happier.
There are numerous stories like this that I have heard as part of
studying this subject, but they all have something in common. The
person has achieved some level of success in their current work, but feels
that something is missing. That something is a feeling of importance or
significance in their life because they don’t feel as though they are
contributing to the world. Then one day, they have an epiphany and
make a drastic change in their life.
The good news is that it’s not too late. Wherever you are in your
life right now, you can start down the path to living a life of purpose.
Whenever a topic such as this is discussed, an inevitable concern
comes up for some people. I know I had this concern as well. My inner
voice would say “That’s all well and good to live a life of charity, but
what if you need to make money to survive! I can’t just quit and become
a monk if I want to eat.” As you're about to see, this concern is
reasonable, but totally unnecessary.
You see, being on your path in life doesn’t necessarily mean you
should devote your life to charity. It simply means you should do what
you do best, to contribute to the world. If you are passionate about
making surfboards and happen to be extremely good at it, then you can
help people by making the best surfboards in the world. It’s that simple,
and doesn’t have to involve charity. The other very counterintuitive
thing to realize is that even though people on their path don’t spend their
time thinking about making lots of money, they usually do!
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 107

Instead of focusing on making money, they spend their time


thinking about how they can create value. After all, that is how you help
others, by creating value in their lives. If you can make anything that
saves people time, money, brings them enjoyment, or is just more
convenient, you have contributed value to their lives. And one of the
great things about value is that by definition, people are willing to pay
money for it.
The companies in the world that ask “How can we improve our
bottom line?” may achieve temporary success, but they won’t be nearly as
successful in the long term as those who ask “How can we give more
value to our customers?”

THREE QUALITIES
Jim Collins, in his book From Good to Great, came up with three
qualities that every great business should have. At the intersection of
these three qualities lies the company’s singular purpose. Some
companies have one or two of those qualities, but rarely does a company
truly find its direction by having all three. He had some excellent
thoughts on how exactly you should come up with that purpose, and
although he was speaking about business, I actually found it helpful in
discovering my life’s purpose.
Everyone has things they are good at and things they are bad at.
They also have things they love doing and things they hate doing.
Finally, there are some activities where it is possible to make money and
there are some activities where it is very difficult to make money.
Your purpose lies at the intersection of all three positive
characteristics: finding something you are good at, love doing, and that
you can earn money from. Each word is chosen very carefully here and
deserves a bit more attention.
108 Breaking Free

Something You Are Good At


You must find something you are good at, because this is the
only way you will be successful (remember the fulfillment chart above?).
Jim actually takes it a step further, and says it must be something that you
have the potential to be the best in the world at. Even though you
probably aren’t the best in the world at it right now, you still must feel
you have the potential to be at the top of your field someday with hard
work. Even if you love doing something and it’s possible to make
money at it, you shouldn’t pursue it unless you can be one of the best in
the world. For example, if you truly love playing football, and you know
that it’s possible to earn a living as a professional football player, you
have two out of three. But if you don’t feel you have the potential to be
one of the best football players in the world, then this should not be your
life’s purpose.

Something You Love Doing


What do you spend your time doing when you find a free
moment? What magazines do your subscribe to and read for fun? Think
back on some times during the past year when you were really happy and
in a great mood. These can all provide clues as to what you are
passionate about. But I bet if you look at the job you have right now, it
is in no way related to your passions.
This is a huge problem. Think for a moment about two people
who each start a web design company. Person A got into the business
because he was good at it and heard there was money to be made. He
loved it when he first started, but he isn’t really excited about working in
web design any more. If truth be told, his clients actually annoy him at
times. Meanwhile, person B truly is passionate about the business. He
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 109

thinks about web design in his free time and can’t wait to jump out of
bed each morning to make progress.
Person A and person B might start out with equal revenue and
client lists, but this wouldn’t last for long. Let’s say its time for the
annual Webmaster World conference, a huge industry event and great
opportunity to learn and network. Person A, being burned out with all
his clients, wouldn’t want to also spend his weekend doing web design,
and would justify skipping the conference by saying he needed to spend
more time with his family. Meanwhile, person B would have been
planning the trip for months and would bring his whole family with him.
While there he would discover new technologies to give him a
competitive advantage and would network to establish a partnership with
another firm to add value to his customers. In the evenings, person A
would watch TV and try to relax after a hard day, but Person B would
read web design magazines just because he liked the subject. This would
give him new ideas on how to generate business.
Before long, Person B would have eclipsed Person A’s web
design company in every area. You see, no matter how hard Person A
worked, or how much he forced himself to keep up, he still wouldn’t
have a chance. To him, it would all be work, while to Person B it would
all be fun. This is the key difference: if you hate doing something and
someone else loves it, the person who loves it will always be more
successful.
It doesn’t matter if you are great at it and it makes you tons of
money. If you don’t love it, you have not found your path in life.

Something You Can Earn Money Doing


Again, the wording here is very deliberate. It doesn’t say
“something you will earn money doing”. It says “something you can earn
110 Breaking Free

money doing”. In other words, as long as it’s possible to earn


something, even if it isn’t much, that is enough. You see, if you have the
potential to be the best in the world at it, and you are passionate about it,
that in itself is enough to make you extremely successful financially in any
industry. It doesn’t matter if the industry is in a recession, if the Wall
Street Journal says it has no growth prospects, or if your friends say it’s a
bad idea. If you love it, you’re great at it, and it’s at least possible to earn
money doing it, end of story. Don’t worry about what others say.
Now it still has to be possible to earn money at it. If you are
passionate about (and really good at) lying on the beach in the sun, this in
itself is not a path in life. However, you might be able to find something
related to it. Don’t be too quick to discount your passions as unsuitable
to make money. One woman who went through this exercise was very
frustrated to discover she was most passionate about watching TV and
following the love lives of celebrities. This was frustrating to her because
she immediately assumed there was no way to earn money with these
passions. She turned out to be wrong. Within six months she had a job
booking celebrities for charity events. Her job was literally to watch TV,
find which celebrities were popular or making appearances for charity,
and then to contact them and book them for events. She assumed no
one would pay her for her passions, but ended up landing her dream job!
Take a moment now and let’s work through an exercise to see
how you can apply this principle to your own life.
Note: Yes, please get a pen or pencil and actually write these in
the book! Reading the book and not doing the exercises will have very
little value. You can also write them on a separate sheet if you don’t
want anyone to find your notes, but please do it!
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 111

List 10 things you happen to be really good at, whether you like
doing them or not. These could be skills that came naturally or
skills you trained for years to master. It doesn’t matter whether
you use them now. They can be from any time in your life.
1. 2.
3. 4.
5. 6.
7. 8.
9. 10.

Now list 10 things that you really enjoy doing. When you have free
time and there is nothing you have to do, you probably end up
doing these things for fun. You probably talk about them
constantly (ask your friends what you mostly talk about). When
have you been happiest in the past year?
1. 2.
3. 4.
5. 6.
7. 8.
9. 10.

Finally, randomly pick combinations of the above two lists, and see
what ways you could put them together to earn money. An
example would be if you are really good at painting, and you feel
happiest when helping children, you could write “paint + help kids
= art teacher” here. Try to force yourself to write 10, even if they
seem silly.
1.
2.
112 Breaking Free

3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t jump right out at you.


As I said in the beginning of the chapter, discovering your purpose in life
is a journey and a process to go through and enjoy. It’s not a quick fix,
with a simple answer. The idea is just to get your brain thinking in a new
way, so you can be constantly getting closer.
This chapter is going to be a series of exercises that can
hopefully help you get closer to discovering your path in life. Spend
some time thinking about each one. Don’t look ahead and try to see
what it all means. Just do each one, one at a time and put some thought
into it. Grab a glass of wine, put on some comfortable clothes, and wrap
yourself if a big blanket if it will help you get the emotions flowing! Take
a break, and do this chapter over several days if necessary. There is no
need to rush because there is no right or wrong answer. The more time
you put in, the more value you will get from these exercises. For an
interesting twist, come back in six months and try it again, to see how
much things have changed. You might be surprised!
Finally, forget what your kindergarten teacher told you, and please
write in this book!
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 113

EXERCISES
Imagine for a moment that you just won the lottery and $6 million
has been deposited into your bank account. All taxes and fees have
been paid; it is your money free and clear. What would you do
right now? What would you do tomorrow and in a month from
now? What would you do over the next year? Even if you say “I
would quit and go to Tahiti”, what would you do after that? You
would have a lot of time on your hands and would need to fill it
with something, so what would you do?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
114 Breaking Free

As you may have guessed, what you wrote down in the previous
section is a good indication of what you are passionate about. The
activities you would do with all the money in the world should be the
same activities you do for your regular job (or at least as close as you can
get it)! Bill Gates is a billionaire, yet he still goes to work every day. He
doesn’t have to; he does it because he likes it. In fact, I suggest the reason
he became a billionaire is that he is doing what he loves. Even when he
did need the money, he still enjoyed it, and that gave him the edge to
become very successful.

Now imagine for a moment that your doctor has given you some
bad news. In exactly 30 days, you will be dead! Until that time,
you will live in perfect health, and there won’t be any pain, but you
have exactly 30 days to live. How are you going to spend your
time? In addition, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the
eulogy at your funeral. What do you want people to say?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 115

Things that you would do in the next 30 days before your certain
death are things that you should really be doing now, because they are
what you value most. Why have you been putting them off? They
probably sound scary, or require you to put yourself in a vulnerable
position. Subconsciously, we will find ways to avoid them and it
sometimes takes a new force (a coach, saying “no matter what”, reading
this book, etc) for us to finally take action. How ironic, that the things
we value most are often the things we avoid the most. Right now, before
you go on to the next exercise, take one item from your list and schedule
a time in the next week that you will do it (or at least take the first step
toward it). No excuses, schedule a time right now and make a
commitment that you will do it no matter what on that day.

What do you find yourself doing naturally, when there is nothing


you have to do? When you are procrastinating, what do you end up
filling time with? What are the hobbies that you enjoy most?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
116 Breaking Free

Richard Branson, the entrepreneur extraordinaire behind the


Virgin brand (Virgin Airways, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Records, etc) once
said, “Since 80 percent of your life is spent working, you should start
your business around something that is a passion of yours”. What you
find yourself doing naturally, without even thinking, can provide a
valuable insight into what is your greatest passion. You may have to look
one level deeper than the mere activity you end up doing. For example,
you find yourself naturally filling your time playing Minesweeper (a small
computer game that comes on Windows PC’s where you methodically
hunt for mines). This doesn’t mean it should be taken literally to mean
“My passion in life is to play minesweeper”. You will need to look one
level deeper. Perhaps what you really enjoy is to hunt down problems
that can harm people. This could lead to any number of careers, such as
a tax accountant, auditor, or police detective. Then again, sometimes it is
quite straightforward. If you spend all your free time reading car
magazines and waste time at work surfing car websites and forums, it’s a
safe bet you are pretty passionate about cars. Try to narrow it down.

• What do you get in trouble for now, and what did you get in
trouble for as a child?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 117

This is an interesting question because it’s quite counterintuitive. Is it


possible that what people have been telling us not to do is actually our
greatest gift? If you always got in trouble as a child for being a class
clown, maybe you should look into comedy or a career making people
laugh1. If you get in trouble for giving your opinion even when it isn’t
asked for, maybe you have a future as a consultant. If you get in trouble
for skipping work to get to the gym, maybe you have a future as a fitness
coach or personal trainer.

List five people that you really admire, and a few qualities you
really like about them.
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

1 Reportedly, when Jay Leno was a little boy in grade school, his parents once received an
angry note from his teacher stating “Jay needs to stop goofing off in class and take his
grades more seriously!”
118 Breaking Free

What do all these people have in common? Jot down a few


more notes if necessary, and try to group together similar traits, values, or
results they each have. It’s quite likely that the qualities you most admire
in them are actually your greatest gifts that you aren’t giving yourself
credit for! Any time you develop respect for someone with a particular
quality, it should be a clear indication to yourself that you have
underdeveloped potential in that area.

Do a quick survey right now by asking (or sending email) to five of


your closest friends or family. Ask them a few questions: (1) What
do I spend most of my time talking about? (2) What do you feel
are my greatest strengths? and (3) Off the top of your head, what
do you think my dream job would be? If you want to give them
some background, just simply say “I’m reading a book about
different paths in life, and I wanted to get your opinion”. Write
their results here (come back later if necessary).
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 119

If they are honest, they may tell you something you never
realized about yourself. They may tell you that you are constantly talking
about your pet dog, when you were under the impression everyone talked
that much about their pets! Suddenly, something you never would have
considered, that you are passionate about pets, will become clear.
Sometimes our best friends know us better than we know ourselves!

Think back to when you were a small child. If possible, look at


some baby photos of yourself right now (this will help immensely).
Look into your own infant eyes and try to remember what you were
thinking about? What are you doing or holding in your photos?
What was most important in your life at that time? What did you
dream about being when you grew up?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
120 Breaking Free

Most people have a theme that runs throughout their life, based
on their core value. It started from a very young age . They may change
professions, friends, clothes, and hair styles, but there is still a theme.
For example, a friend of mine was a doctor, writer, and activist all at
different stages of his life. What theme could possibly run throughout
these? Well, for him it was helping children, his core value. He was able
to bring children into the world as a doctor, educate them with his
children’s books, and protect them by becoming an activist for issues
that affected children. You too have a core value and a theme that is
running throughout your life. What do you value most? More likely than
not, you still have the same goals and desires in some form today. What
have all the different careers and projects in your life had in common?

Take a moment and put your wildest dreams down on paper.


What have you always wanted to do but didn’t? Have you ever
wanted to drive a Formula 1 race car? Star in a Hollywood film?
Throw a Super Bowl winning touch down? Visit all seven wonders
of the world? Have a torrid romance in Paris? Walk on the moon?
Have dinner with the president? Put down five things that are
outrageous, seem impossible, and would be awfully exciting.
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 121

All of us dream big, but putting those plans into action is a bit harder.
The way to get the most out of life is to actually do some of these things!
At the very least, start making steps toward them. Most people have a
list buried away in there head of tasks like this, but they always view them
as out of reach. Maybe on some level, they don’t feel they deserve to have
such “peak experiences” in life. “That always sounded exciting, but it’s
just not me,” they might say. Bullshit! If it would be exciting, then why
can’t you do it? If you sit and think about it there really isn’t any excuse
(although I’m sure your brain will try to come up with some). Don’t
make the mistake of actually finding your passion, and not going down
the path because of fear.

As the final exercise, you are going to draw a picture of yourself.


Yes, even if it feels a bit silly....close your eyes for a moment and
visualize your ideal self in your head. How are you standing?
What are you wearing? What are the people around you doing and
how are they relating to your? How would you walk? What kind of
tone and gestures would you make when you talk? Don’t think
about it too much...just start drawings what comes into your head!
122 Breaking Free

Self Portrait:
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 123

THERE IS NO MAGIC ANSWER, IT


IS A JOURNEY TO ENJOY
Sometimes, people reach the end of these exercises and don’t
have a magical answer sitting in front of them about what they should do
with the rest of their life. Don’t worry, that’s exactly where you should
be! Not everyone is going to have an epiphany moment where their
entire life suddenly comes into focus. And even if it does, those grand
ideas will probably change as you go farther down the path.
In short, try to start thinking about the process of finding your
passion or purpose in life as a journey. It is an exciting journey that has
ups and downs. There will be high points and low points that will be
tough to get through. But overall the trend will be upward and you will
continually be getting closer to your core value and a life of purpose.
This will very likely involve quitting your job and starting a business or
two (or ten). When is the journey over? The day that you die.
You see, those who are looking for the journey to end are
missing the point. One of the ironies of success is that many people
experience a let down or feeling of depression after finally reaching their
goal. How can this be?
The answer lies in the fact that it is the journey, not the end result,
which brings us the most joy out of life. Just focus on the next step in
front of you. When something sounds interesting or exciting, take note
of it! If you hear some friends discussing an event they are going to, a
trip they are taking, or a new book they just read, and you find yourself
becoming strangely interested, do something about it. Make a
commitment to explore it further. The first time I heard that my friend
Dan was taking Brazilian Jujitsu classes, I was immediately interested.
Taking some martial arts classes had been in the back of my mind for the
124 Breaking Free

past year, but I’d never found time to research which style or philosophy
to learn. Dan talked about it with such passion, that I joined him at his
next class, and I am still going today. When another of my friends,
Sheena, mentioned she had written a book and that it had led to many
other opportunities, my ears again perked up. Suddenly I realized how
much I would enjoy the process of writing a book and sharing my ideas.
Later that very day I decided on what I wanted to write about and started
an outline!
If you are stuck in a job, and your identity is wrapped around it,
then you will probably never even take these exciting ideas that are
dropped in your lap and explore them. When people talk about their job
they like to say “I am an accountant” or “I am a counselor”. But your
job is not who you are. Your job is simply something you do. Develop a
mindset that you can do anything, you is a flexible concept, and you can try
any new thing that catches your fancy. Not every single thing you try will
end up being a good fit, but you will certainly be getting closer to your
path and purpose each time.
Furthermore, each time you actually do explore one of those
opportunities that sounds exciting (and a bit scary), you will be expanding
your identity and concept of yourself. Do you think Donald Trump was
born with the identity of business mogul, signing huge contracts, jetting
across the country, and dating super models? No way! He approached it
slowly over time, by trying smaller things that weren’t quite as scary or as
far outside his reality. He had to sign a lot of little contracts, to build the
confidence to sign the big ones. Whether you secretly admire the
Donald or despise him, you must also take small steps toward your path
in life. You will wake up one day five years later and be a completely
different person: the person you dreamt of becoming!
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 125

LOOKING TO GOD FOR ANSWERS


One of the most famous books on this subject of finding your
path or purpose is called The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. In the
first chapter, he talks about how you cannot choose your own purpose
and path in life, because it has already been chosen by God. Your only
goal should be to surrender to this ultimate purpose. This is a terrible
idea.
No one has chosen your path for you. It is up to you, and no
one else, to make your path in life. You can do whatever you want. If
your purpose doesn’t exist yet, then you can literally create it from
nothing. Saying that your purpose in life is already decided by someone
else is a cop out, and a dangerous trap. It allows you to place blame,
accept second best, and ultimately give up responsibility for your own
success.
It may be easier to stomach the idea that your purpose in life is
out of your control. I admit that this is a very appealing notion because
it takes the weight off your shoulders. If it doesn’t work out, or an
opportunity doesn’t present itself, then “It was God’s will”. Not so fast!
It was your own self doubt and lack of drive. Taking responsibility for
finding your own purpose in life can be downright scary. But that
doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Instead, embrace the challenge and
enjoy the process each day.
There is nothing wrong with praying for guidance, or believing
in God, or following the wisdom of scripture. These can all have
positive benefits in your life. But don’t hand off responsibility for your
success. No one is going to do it for you. Most likely, no one is even
going to care if you are wildly successful. They may give you token
126 Breaking Free

congratulations, or secretly envy you, but ultimately they won’t care. It is


up to you, and you alone, to create what you desire.

A FEELING, NOT A DECISION


When going through the process of discovering what you are
passionate about, it’s important to focus on your feelings instead of
making logical decisions. Some people are very left brained and have
trouble thinking in this way. Their decisions in life are based on cold
hard facts, and empirical evidence. I know, because I’m one of these
people! But using strictly this approach to discovering a great path in life
is a mistake.
At the end of the day, the only thing that will matter is how you
feel. Let’s say you logically made the right decision about which business
to start. It fit all the criteria we discussed and made perfect sense on
paper, but for some reason you just aren’t excited about it. Well, then
you haven’t accomplished your goal! Don’t sit here reading this book,
racking your brain, trying to logic your way into an ideal project to pursue.
Instead, focus on how you feel.
Recall a time when you were very excited and actually feel that
same excitement now as you relive it. Picture yourself in your head as
your ideal self and feel the warmth of others around you. Imagine
yourself at your own funeral with your friends speaking, and feel the
sadness in the air2. When you suddenly are in a good mood, stop and
think about why. What put you in that great mood? Then its time to
construct a life that automatically puts you in that great mood every day!
Discovering what is truly important to you will be a process of
feeling, not logical decisions. No matter how much your parents tried to

2 This exercise is attributed to Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 127

logically convince you to go after a certain profession, if it didn’t feel


right, then it wasn’t for you. Similarly, when you tried to convince
yourself logically that your current job wasn’t so bad (“But the money is
really good!”), part of you didn’t buy it because it still didn’t feel right.
Listen to your heart, and more genuine happiness will follow.

A FINAL METHOD TO TRY


If you are still stuck, and would like some more insight, I have a
final exercise for you. In fact, this is a good exercise to perform on a
regular basis in your life. Set aside one hour of your day, and find a place
that is as close to being completely silent as you can find. Lock yourself
in an unused room, go to an empty park, or find a tiny corner of the
library. Place in front of you a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Then sit,
for one hour, in complete silence, and see what happens.
Don’t make an effort to think of anything in particular, don’t
have an agenda, and resist the urge to look at your watch or doodle. The
first fifteen minutes or so might be quite excruciating as your mind
searches for something to focus on. Very few of us have ever sat for one
hour in complete silence and your brain won’t be quite sure how to
respond!
Eventually, thoughts will start to flow out of your mind. Jot
down words or pictures on the paper as they come to you. Don’t
evaluate them or cross anything out, just keep writing without thinking
too much about it.
The purpose of this exercise is to clear your conscious mind and
quiet the little voice in your head that is constantly evaluating. When you
clear your conscious mind, the subconscious starts to release thoughts up
into the conscious mind where you can analyze them. These thoughts
normally stay somewhat hidden as we keep our conscious mind
128 Breaking Free

occupied, and manifest themselves indirectly. But with this exercise they
are right there for the taking.
After doing this for one hour, you may have some interesting
things you didn’t know about yourself on paper, or you may feel like you
have accomplished nothing. But don’t despair. You are beginning the
process of learning about yourself; your highest values, and your deepest
concerns. In short, what is driving your life! You may have to do this
many times, or every day for a month! But if you continue to do it, I
guarantee you will be getting closer and closer to discovering the path or
purpose in life that will bring you the most happiness and success. You
will very likely come up with some exciting business ideas to pursue as
well.
Two variations on this approach are as follows: Variation one
involves going for a long walk through the wilderness or a park. Don’t
bring headphones or anyone else to distract you. Try to go somewhere
isolated where very few other people are hiking. Use this time just like
you would sitting in silence, except you won’t be able to write. Don’t
have a specific agenda, just let your thoughts flow and talk to yourself.
Variation two I learned from a coach named Linda Starr. Get a bunch of
magazines (such as National Geographic) that have plenty of interesting
photos. Cut out any that catch your eye and paste them to a sheet of 8 ½
x 11 paper. Once you have a collage of images, write on the back any
words that come to mind by looking at the pictures. The pictures will act
as triggers to bring up memories or emotions so you can get them down
on paper.
Both of these variations accomplish the same goal of bring up
unconscious thoughts into your conscious mind. They are a great way to
learn about you.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 129

PASSION IS IMPORTANT
Let’s bring this chapter back into focus. We’ve covered a wide
range of exercises and techniques, all of which will help you discover
your passion or purpose in life. But why is this important?
In many ways, this is the most important part of the book. Yes,
it is a book about quitting your job to work for yourself. But the way to
be successful in this process is to find your purpose; once you have
found it (or at least the next step toward it) you will be excited,
motivated, and happier. You see, I could give you all the business advice
in the world (and I will), but if you are passionate about the project you’re
about to undertake, then that will be more valuable than any advice I can
give you. Once you are on your path, your entire life changes. Work is
no longer work. Learning is no longer a chore. Waking up Monday
morning is no longer something to be dreaded. Your life will suddenly
have clarity, meaning, and significance.
Spend some time going through this chapter’s exercises in depth
if you haven’t already. If you have, you may want to try them again a bit
later. Keep at it, and eventually one day an idea will strike you! You may
be talking to a friend when he or she mentions something that gives you
an idea. Or you may be running through the park when you have a great
thought. Or it may come just as you are about to drift off to sleep one
night. But when it hits you, a feeling of excitement will come over you
and you will have trouble thinking about anything else. You’ll be like a
kernel of corn in the microwave slowly getting warmer and warmer as
you do these exercises. At times it may appear you are getting nowhere
and that nothing has changed, but if you keep at it your kernel will
eventually pop! This is the sweet spot that you will be aiming for, and it
will just be the first idea of many. As you get closer to your path in life,
130 Breaking Free

new ideas and opportunities will show up to give you that feeling over
and over again. Pretty soon, you will have so many exciting
opportunities appearing around you that you’ll have to eliminate all but
your top few as a matter of time management! These are the projects
that will bring you success. These are the projects that will bring you
incredible wealth. These are the projects that will fulfill your deepest
values. And these are the projects that will bring passion into your life.
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 131

CHAPTER 5 EXERCISES
The exercises for this chapter are found throughout the chapter,
instead of at the end.
132 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 5 SUMMARY
• Finding your purpose in life is essential.
o Fulfillment
 High/low skill, High/low difficulty
o Finding Love
 Being on your path is attractive
o Excitement
 Work becomes fun
o Significance
 Your work becomes important, helps others
• Don’t focus on money, focus on finding your passion and money
will follow.
• Three qualities, find something you...
o Are good at
o Love doing
o Can earn money doing
• Exercises
o What would you do if you won $6 million?
o What would you do if you were going to die in 30 days?
o What do you find yourself doing naturally?
o What do you get in trouble for?
o Who do you admire most?
o What do you spend your time talking about?
o What did you want when you were a child?
o What would you do in your wildest dreams?
o Draw yourself!
Finding Your Path and Purpose in Life 133

• Finding your purpose is a journey to enjoy, and there isn’t one magic
answer.
• Take guidance from religion, but don’t depend on God to hand you
your purpose. Take responsibility to discover and create it for
yourself.
• Listen to your feelings, not your logical mind.
• Sit for an hour in total silence with a blank sheet of paper to access
your subconscious.
o Try a long isolated walk through nature.
o Use images to trigger thoughts and write them down as a
stream of consciousness.
• Passion is essential!
Chapter 6
What Kind of Business
Should I Start?

“Since 80 percent of your life is spent working, you should start


your business around something that is a passion of yours”
- Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group

RETHINKING THE CONCEPT OF


YOUR OWN BUSINESS

W hat pops into your head when you imagine owning


your own business? If you’re like most people, you
might think of people you know who are self-employed. A neighbor
with a family owned restaurant, or a relative with a small retail store.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these businesses, they are a
terrible first business for you to start. These are what I call old fashioned
ideas of how to become a business owner, and they are very difficult.
Luckily, many opportunities exist today to work for yourself with a
fraction of the expense and risk. A whole other world of business
opportunities exist that you may have never considered! It is my goal in
136 Breaking Free

this chapter to completely restructure your idea of what owning a


business is all about.
What is so wrong with the “old fashioned” way of starting a
business? Well let’s take the most common example of opening up a
restaurant, corner bakery, or sandwich shop. The primary problem is
that it is risky and takes plenty of hard work. Just think about all the
costs you will have to incur before you can ever make a dime. You’ll
have to buy or rent another property for the business, preferably in a
good location (you do want customers don’t you?). On that property
you’ll have to pay utilities, repairs, insurance, etc, just like owning another
home. You'll have to furnish it purchase equipment to operate your
business. Then come the employees – oh the dreaded employees. You’ll
have to interview them, but for minimum wage it’s tough to find good
help. Turnover will be high, some of them may steal from you, some of
them won’t care, and some of them may even sue you. Your most
frequent annoyance may be when one of them quits unexpectedly or just
doesn’t show up. It’s up to you to fill in at the last minute; you are
always on call. Then there is the inventory. You’ll have to buy
ingredients for whatever you want to sell. You’ll have to spend money
on décor and interior design. The list goes on and on, and this is all
before you have earned a single dollar! Once you are finally open for
business, a new set of problems arise. You’ll have to focus on
advertising if you want your restaurant to actually be profitable, and
you’ll quickly find yourself spending twelve hour days just to keep an eye
on everything. Even though you were originally passionate about the
food, you are now spending all your time on managing employees,
dealing with health inspectors, and worrying about how to get new
business. Is it any wonder the vast majority of new restaurants don’t
make it past two years?
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 137

Sure, owning your own business might give you a sense of pride.
But your situation hasn’t improved much. Now, instead of spending
eight hours a day as a worker bee for someone else, you are a slave to
your own business working twelve hour days! Moreover, it could be
years before you recover your initial investment in the business (if you
recover it at all).
The other typical example of starting a business than many
people think of today involves a high tech startup. The typical business
plan goes something like this: First, we’ll take a hot new technology that
has been getting lots of buzz. Then we’ll secure $20 million in venture
capital funding. Finally, we’ll build a team of twenty top engineers from
the best universities, put them in a swanky Silicon Valley office building,
give them stock options, and become millionaires! Unfortunately it
rarely works out and this is once again a poor strategy to build your first
company. You are taking on huge amounts of debt and betting the farm
on an unproven strategy. Even if you aren’t betting your money, and
have secured financing, giving up control of your company is not a
pleasant experience.
If this is the average person’s idea of owning a business, it’s no
wonder most people choose the security of their worker bee jobs, even if
they hate it. Luckily, starting a business today is much easier than the
painful stories depicted above. The first business you start should be
more like a project. For example, putting together a photo album of
your family, writing a journal, or planning a road trip with friends is a
project. Think about your first business as something on this scale. It’s
merely something interesting you are going to try, and the small amount
of money invested won’t be important if you make a mistake (otherwise
known as learning). You may be pursuing several projects at once, trying
new things that catch your fancy. You don’t need a large investment or
138 Breaking Free

venture capital, you don’t need a large team of people, and you certainly
don’t need a swanky office building or retail store.

ELIMINATING COSTS
One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced entrepreneurs make is
that they are far too good at spending money! I have some helpful
advice for you regarding expenses in starting a new company:

1. Thou shalt not rent an office.


2. Thou shalt not hire fancy lawyers to draft contracts.
3. Thou shalt not hire assistants and employees.
4. Thou shalt not travel to meetings.
5. Thou shalt not purchase unnecessary electronic equipment
(computers, printers, faxes, etc).
6. Thou shalt not spend a single cent that isn’t absolutely required until
there is profit coming in the door!

Anytime, I hear a new business owner going on about how


much “progress” they have made getting the office put together, great
people on their team, and excellent meetings they attended in other cities,
I have to ask them what their net income looks like. If they tell me “The
product is still under development” or “We’re going to start third quarter
this year” I can only shake my head. Don’t ever spend money you don’t
have to in the early stages because you never know what might happen.
“But Brian”, I hear you saying, “surely you’ll have to spend
something to get a new business off the ground!” True, but it is probably
nowhere near as much as you might think. You don’t need an office
because you can work at home or in a garage. You don’t need business
cards and fancy letterhead because you don’t have a product finished yet.
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 139

You don’t need lawyers to charge exorbitant fees to write contracts.


Instead, find templates on the internet (or make friends with lawyers who
will email them to you) and copy/paste them together on your own. I’m
sure what you come up with will be 90% as good as what the $500 per
hour lawyers will come up with1. Once you have some profit coming in
the door, then you can worry about covering all your bases with high
priced lawyers. You don’t need to hire assistants or employees because
you don’t have any customers yet (more on this below). And you
certainly don’t need to travel to other cities for meetings and stay in nice
hotels when a telephone is right there on the desk. In fact, you shouldn’t
even be using a telephone for expensive long distance calls! Use your cell
phone with a national plan or a Skype headset2. You don’t need to
purchase a new computer, printer, and fax machine because you are
working at home. Use the hardware you already have! As an
entrepreneur your credo should be to beg, borrow, and steal any item
you possibly can before spending money! (Ok, don’t actually steal it, but
you get the idea.)

WORK AT HOME
As I stated above, you should work out of your home by
creating a “home office”. There are many reasons to create a home
office, but here are a few of them:

1 Incidentally, the $500 per hour lawyer isn’t writing the contract himself. He has an
intern do exactly what you were doing, copying and pasting templates, which he then
gives a quick once over.
2 www.skype.com is a voice over IP service that is excellent and inexpensive for national
and international calls
140 Breaking Free

1. You’ll never sit in rush hour traffic.


2. Your commute time is zero (get an extra hour in every day).
3. You save money on gas.
4. You save money on food (since you are eating groceries instead of
food from restaurants).
5. You eat healthier food.
6. You save money on office equipment by using your home computer,
printer, and fax.
7. You save money on office rent.
8. You save money on office energy costs and other utilities.

Many small businesses who rent an office don’t ever have clients
show up. It is a waste of money each month that is slowly but surely
destroying their cash reserves. It’s very reasonable for a new company to
get started at a home office, or through collaboration over the internet.
You can use excellent free call and video conferencing applications such
as Skype to collaborate with other people anywhere in the world. You
can keep your projects organized with tools like Basecamp3. You can
write documents and spreadsheets with others through Google
Documents and Spreadsheets. If you need to have a meeting with clients
or potential clients to “make a good impression”, meet with them at their
office, a restaurant, or a coffee shop. Even big companies with the most
expensive office buildings often prefer to meet at restaurants. A nice
meal or cup of coffee here and there will be far cheaper than rent.
Some people are concerned that they won’t be able to work in
isolation at home. Others are concerned they won’t be able to work with
the lack of isolation at home. Still others fear they might go crazy

3 www.basecamphq.com
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 141

spending all their time in the house! The solution to all of these is to get
out of the house once in a while. When you work at home, it’s advisable
to take your work to a coffee shop or bookstore at least a couple times
per week. Bring a laptop if you have one and look for locations with free
wireless internet access. They provide perfect working environments. I
have met several other successful entrepreneurs in these locations that I
am still friends with today. You should also join local clubs related to
your business and hobbies to stay in touch with knowledgeable people
and keep learning. With a few small changes like this, working at home
becomes one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

NO EMPLOYEES
As a general rule, the more employees involved in the business,
the more problems you will have. The more time you will spend on the
phone dealing with little problems and the more time will be taken away
from your most important tasks, like building and selling a great product.
Some people have a negative reaction to this statement, and
indignantly reply that “Employees are the most valuable resource a
business can have!” Well, this is true, sometimes. I agree that small
teams can have incredible synergy to become far more than the sum of
their parts. I agree that you aren’t superman or superwoman and you
can’t do everything yourself. But this doesn’t mean you should
automatically move to hiring people as a way to solve problems. What’s
far more likely to happen is that you’ll create new problems!
Several studies on collaboration have shown the ideal team size
to be about three, yet few companies actually practice this. Their
employees instead spend a large percentage of their time on bureaucracy.
Attending meetings, returning voicemails, and filling out the proverbial
142 Breaking Free

“TPS Reports”4 takes up all their time which should be spent on


developing a great product and marketing it. If you are going to work
with others, then the smaller the team the better. Of course, working by
yourself in a team of one is arguably the best team you can have. When
you encounter a problem that you don’t have the experience to solve
(graphic design, accounting, or programming a website for example) it’s
far more efficient either to quickly learn it (especially if it doesn’t need to
be perfect) or to outsource it to a contractor for one job. Hiring
someone full time would be a mistake in this case.
Here is a partial list of problems than can come about from
hiring employees:

1. You have to pay them, of course. Sounds simple right? Wrong.


Now you need a payroll department (more employees), a way to
track hours and bonuses, and you’ll need to print checks and deliver
them or setup direct deposit. Some checks will bounce, be lost, or
will be incorrect, leading to more phone calls.
2. If they are actual employees, you have to worry about paying
benefits. (You could hire independent contractors instead, but you
have to make sure you are doing so legally.)
3. You will need to develop a recruiting process.
4. You will need to develop a hiring/interview process.
5. If you make a mistake at some point and hire the wrong person, this
can be the most damaging of all. Morale can be destroyed and your
good employees will have to work extra hard to fix the mistakes
made by the bad one.

4 This term was made popular by the film Office Space , and has come to mean “mindless
paperwork”
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 143

6. You will have to fire people, and learn how to do so in way that
avoids lawsuits.
7. You may be sued by past employees.
8. You may have employees quit and become your competitors.
9. You may have employees steal from you.

The list goes on, but perhaps one of the biggest oversights
entrepreneurs make when it comes to hiring is that they don’t look at the
cost benefit analysis. They simply look at the benefit saying “If we hire
someone to do all of the customer support we’ll have lots more time to
do sales”. Yes, that may be true, but what is the cost and is it worth it?
Let’s say you need to pay this customer support employee $30,000 a year.
Is the benefit of no longer having to answer phone calls from customers
worth $30,000 per year? In other words, will at least an additional
$30,000 in profit (not revenue) come into the business as a result of my
additional time spent on sales5? Moreover, what additional time and
money would need to be spent on finding a good candidate for the job,
setting up payroll, and putting some checks in place to make sure they
are supervised and doing a good job? Would a training program be
necessary for this employee and if so at what cost? Would overall
customer support quality go up or down as a result of this decision? Are
there perhaps other benefits to doing the customer support yourself that
you haven’t considered, such as getting timely feedback on how your
product is performing and your customer’s problems with it? Suddenly,

5 It should be noted that even if an additional $30,000 in profit did come in, you would
only break even in this example. There would be no disadvantage, but you wouldn’t earn
anything either.
144 Breaking Free

“We wouldn’t have to spend time answering phone calls from


customers” doesn’t seem quite so simple.
For this reason, I’m going to make a recommendation: For at
least the first few businesses you start, choose a business that doesn’t
require a single employee other than you!
Once you are an experienced entrepreneur, it may make sense to
undertake larger projects that require levels of management. But then
again, it probably won’t. Several very wealthy people I’ve spoken to used
to be in charge of huge teams at big companies where they attended
endless meetings and multiple layers of management approval were
required for any small change. They now earn more than they did at
their big company, but instead they work for themselves and have zero
employees (or perhaps one assistant). They also get far more work done
and have less stress.
There are two exceptions to this rule: partners and an assistant.
If you feel absolutely confident you need to work with someone
else, then you could take on a partner instead of hiring an employee.
This has several benefits because payroll is simplified (you just decide
when to pay yourselves by writing a check), people with ownership are
less likely to steal and more likely to care, and the interview/hiring
process is a one time thing. Then again, taking on partners doesn’t come
without risk. As a general rule, if you ever become business partners
with a friend or family member, you can be sure to have disagreements
and tension (and in a fairly high percent of cases, complete destruction of
the relationship) no matter how close you are right now. I don't
recommend becoming business partners with someone you live with.
Working all day together and spending all evening together is a sure fire
way to be at each other’s throats in no time. Furthermore, having a
partner will hinder your productivity because every decision has to go
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 145

through two (or more) people instead of just one. This means a flurry of
emails and phone calls will be constantly going between the group, and if
there is ever a disagreement, it could last indefinitely (there is no boss
with the final say). In my experience, partnerships are rarely formed as a
necessary and sound business decision. They are formed because the
parties aren’t confident or experienced enough to go at it on their own. I
have to admit, this was the reason the first two businesses I started were
partnerships; I didn’t have the confidence or belief in myself that I could
do it on my own. Ultimately they were great learning experiences, and
gave me the confidence to start a business on my own which was far
more successful. If you need to follow the same path, so be it, but just
be aware of the risks of partnerships.
Secondly, a personal assistant may be appropriate as your one
employee. Referring back to the previous section on cutting expenses,
this doesn’t mean you should go out and hire one right away and waste
money. Don’t ever hire a personal assistant until you are making enough
profit to easily hire one, you are so busy you can't handle your workload,
you have a clearly defined list of tasks that sum up to a full time job (the
last thing you want is an expensive envelope licker). Don’t ever hire a
personal assistant to do a job that can be done better or cheaper by some
piece of technology (it will be menial work and they will come to resent
the job). As a general rule, I wouldn’t consider hiring a personal assistant
until you have a net worth in excess of $1 million. Finally, don’t hire a
personal assistant who shares your same skills. Hire someone who
complements you and is skilled in the areas that you are weak.
In summary, hiring employees is a common mistake and often
carries far more costs in time and money than entrepreneurs realize.
With each additional person added to a team, the amount of time spent
communicating goes up exponentially and the amount of time spent
146 Breaking Free

working goes down exponentially. Make at least your first few


businesses, if not all of them, a one employee company: yourself.
Remember that any time you come across a task you wish to delegate or
don’t know how to do, it is far better to outsource it or quickly learn to
do it well enough yourself, than it is to hire an employee.

READY, FIRE, AIM.


Many successful entrepreneurs have stated that the secret to
their success was that they acted and went for it even though they didn’t
feel 100% prepared. Once you have an idea, take the first step toward
completing it now, and figure out the details later. Those who have to
wait until all their ducks are in a row will be stuck waiting forever.
I will tell you a secret: the ducks will never all be in a row!
The minute you get that last one in line, another one will pop
out. It’s imperative you go ahead and do your best with what you have
now. At some point you will have to exit the learning stage and enter the
doing stage. Don’t get caught in the “analysis paralysis” of continuing to
learn more and more. At some point you’ll have to just pull the trigger,
whether you have every possible contingency covered or not. After
pulling the trigger is when the real learning will start, because then you
can see where your shot actually went. It is no longer theory or
discussion, it is actually happening. Only then, after actually taking the
first shot, can you begin to correct your aim.
When starting my first business, I was full of uncertainty and
doubt. What did I know? I was barely an adult. I had read a little bit
about incorporating, but I couldn’t afford any actual legal advice. I didn’t
know how to pay business taxes. I didn’t know if anyone would buy my
product. I didn’t know how to find customers. But after reading a little
bit, I just decided to go for it, ready or not. The effect was dramatic.
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 147

Experience is the best teacher. Sure, I made a few mistakes, but it wasn’t
anything I couldn’t recover from.
It’s time to realize and accept the fact that you will not be entirely
prepared when you start your first business. So what? Do it anyway. No
one is entirely prepared the first time. But they have the courage to act in
spite of their fear, which is why they are successful today.

ECONOMIES OF SCALE
This is just a fancy economics term that describes how your
business can grow. If you have good economies of scale, then growing
your business will lead to growing profits. But if you have poor
economies of scale, then there is an upper limit on how much your
business can grow.
Imagine for a moment that you decide to start a shoe company.
It is your first business and you’ve decided to make the shoes from your
home and sew them by hand. You have all the materials at home and
can start right away. Each shoe takes you one hour to make, and you will
earn $10 of profit when you sell it.
Now imagine a second business you might start which is selling
an e-Book on the internet. Each e-Book you sell earns you the same $10
profit, but it doesn’t take you any time to sell or make each individual
one. In fact, the entire selling process is automated so that people can
order it and download it without you having to do a single thing.
However, to get the book written and the automated process setup takes
you 100 hours of time up front and $100.
148 Breaking Free

Shoe’s R Us eBook.com

Profit per sale $10 $10

Fixed Cost (time) 0 hours 100 hours

Fixed Cost ($) $0 $100

Unit Cost (time) 1 hour 0 hours


Figure 5 – Economies of scale example

What is the difference between these two businesses and which


has better economies of scale? At first glance the Shoe company appears
to be a lot cheaper to run, but does this tell the whole story? To answer
this question, let’s imagine how each one will grow.
The shoe company doesn’t require any work up front. You have
your first shoe done in one hour and have started earning money right
away. Your business grows, and more orders come in. Soon you are
making and selling eight shoes per day, for a nice $80 profit. However,
your time becomes scarce making shoes eight hours per day since they
take an hour each, and as more orders come in you have to start making
a wait list. Your business is not scaling well. To grow this business you
will have to start taking on employees or outsourcing large parts of your
work.
Meanwhile, your e-Book requires much more up front work.
After finally writing the darn thing and getting an automated order
system put together you haven’t earned a cent (you actually had to pay
someone $100 to setup the website)! But eventually a few orders start to
roll in. A month later, with some marketing efforts, you finally break
even and recover your initial cost. From now on you could simply leave
it and earn the pure profit off each additional sale. Since each sale
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 149

doesn’t require any effort on your part, you are spending your time on
your next business idea and picking up a check each month. It makes
money for you while you sleep. A few more months go by and your e-
Book gets a favorable write-up in a magazine, followed by some word of
mouth marketing. Suddenly your sales go through the roof. Your
website is processing dozens of orders per day. Your business continues
to expand and grow with no upper limit since each sale is automated.
The only time you may spend on the business could be additional
marketing, creating new versions of the product, or dealing with the
occasional technical problem. Overall, this business scales well and has a
lot of upside potential.
The businesses that scale well are those with low per unit costs
of time. This example should not be taken to mean shoe companies are
bad and e-Book’s are great. It is merely the concept of scaling that I wish
to convey here. To further explain, fixed costs are anything that you pay
regardless of how much you sell. For example, you would still have to
buy a sewing machine to make your shoes, regardless of how many shoes
you sold. That is a fixed cost. Per unit costs (or variable costs) are those
costs that vary with how many items you sell. The cost can be in terms
of time or money. For example, for each additional shoe you sell, you
have to buy the raw materials for it. That is a unit cost. You also need to
spend one additional hour to make it, which is a unit cost of time. This
is why I say that businesses with low unit costs of time have good
economies of scale. For each additional item you sell, very little
additional time is required on your part.
150 Breaking Free

Figure 6 – Economies of scale comparison

The Shoe business is more profitable at first. But after you have
sold eighteen e-Book’s and beyond, the economies of scale will win for
eBook.com. What would the graph look like after one year of sales? Ten
years? Play to win in the long run!

WHAT IF YOU SUCCEED?


Before you jump head first into a new business, take a moment
to consider what life would be like if you actually succeeded. What is the
full potential of the business? What is it that you are actually working
toward?
One night about a year ago, I met a nice young man at a
speaking event. He found out that I was an entrepreneur and told me all
about his great business idea that he had started working on. He wanted
to create custom children’s books, where the parents could upload
photos to his website, and a few weeks later an illustrated children’s book
(with their actual child in it) would arrive. His idea sounded unique and
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 151

intriguing so I started to ask him some questions. How much do you


think you’ll be able to sell each of these books for? How much will the
printing cost be? How much time will it take you to modify the photos
from the customer and create the book?
After a few minutes my initial excitement wore off and I started
to realize that his great idea might not be so great after all. About an
hour of work would need to go into each book. Retailing for $25 or $30
made it a relatively expensive children’s book, but still viable.
Unfortunately, after the printing cost he was left with about $10 in profit
to pay himself (or whomever was going to make them) and cover all
expenses.
I didn’t want to discourage him since he had such enthusiasm,
which I admired. But at the same time I had to let him know that he
would essentially be working for $10 per hour. Not a bad wage, but it’s
also about what you can earn working at Starbucks. He certainly wasn’t
going to get rich off his idea. Now, if he was exceptionally passionate
about making children’s books, then fine. Making an average salary to do
what you love is fine. It could have been a great starting off point for
him to get something out there and meet others in the industry.
However, for him, making the books wasn’t a passion. He liked the idea
of the business and was an entrepreneur who wanted to be out selling,
not stuck behind a computer doing the repetitive graphic design for eight
hours a day. When he finally took a moment to look at his best case
scenario (all the books being ordered that he could handle), it didn’t look
quite as bright. I advised him to look into the idea of automating the
book creation in some way, either through technology or outsourcing it.
You too should take a moment to analyze the best case scenario
of what will happen if your business succeeds. What type of work will
take up most of your day? In the best case, how many items could you
152 Breaking Free

realistically produce and ship every day, week, or year? If you actually
shipped this many, would you be happy with the income you were
generating?
As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, you might
just get it! Wishing for a successful business means much more than
wishing for lots of sales. If you get all those sales, will you still be happy?

SEVEN BUSINESSES YOU CAN


START FOR $100 OR LESS
Hopefully I have given you a fresh perspective on what it means
to own your own business. To summarize, I would generally define
“owning your own business” as any project that allows you to pay
yourself. Your name (or your company’s name) is on the checks. That’s
it. All types of activities fall into this category (besides owning the ill-
fated restaurant or shoe company described earlier). Many people will
tell you that this definition of being an entrepreneur is wrong. They will
tell you that your company isn’t real because it doesn’t have a high rise
office with lots of workers, it doesn’t have a 401k plan, and it didn’t
require your entire life savings invested just to get started. These old
fashioned ideas of business ownership are on their way out. It’s no
longer difficult or risky to get started, and anyone who tells you different
is holding on to the past.
Once you get a business or two off the ground (and in my
experience it will take a business or two that don’t get off the ground just
to get to that point), then you can start thinking about bigger projects
that are riskier or require bigger investments. You’ll be ready for bigger
projects at that point because you’ll have more confidence. You’ll have
past experiences (success in your previous businesses) to draw your
confidence from. You also will have learned so much from your
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 153

previous businesses that the “crisis” situations you experienced then will
be a breeze the second time around (but don’t worry, new “crisis”
situations will come up for you to learn from).
So without further ado, here are seven businesses that you can
start for $100 or less. They can be profitable quickly, can be started on
nights and weekends while still at your current job, and follow all the
guidelines discussed at the beginning of the chapter.

• Consultant
Whatever job you currently have (or have had) has given you a skill
set that is valuable to others. Regardless of what industry you are in,
there are others interested in what’s sitting between your ears. You
have the ability now to train people coming into the industry, to be
hired by companies for short term projects, and to be hired as an
expert speaker or trainer. If you decide to go this route, start making
a list of possible customers. The key here is to become an expert
networker. Start going to industry trade shows and events. Read
Thomas Stanely’s book Networking with Millionaires. The secret to
getting more through networking is giving more. Most consultants
who are just getting into the business price themselves far too low.
Often, your price is your perceived value to your customers. If you
aren’t charging very much, you must not be very good. Work with
the first few clients for free to get your foot in the door, and deliver
far more than they expect. Collect their endorsements, and then set
your price in the top third for the industry. Save all your documents
and record your speeches. These materials can be sold as
information products at a later time, which is where the real
economies of scale come into play. When your services come into
demand, there will again only be a limited number of hours you can
154 Breaking Free

work each week, but your information products can be sold over and
over again with no additional work on your part.

Pros: Truly helps people by teaching, puts you in touch with many
great contacts.
Cons: Takes time to build client list and information products.
Key to Success: Be confident enough in the value of your advice to
charge a premium.

• Buyers Guide Website


A buyers guide website provides recommendations and reviews of
products to help consumers decide what to buy (think Consumer
Reports), and more and more people today are turning to the internet
for this information. Think about the last time you purchased an
expensive item like a computer, television, or car. I bet you went to
the internet to do some research. However, you most likely ran into
some poorly designed websites, plenty of advertisements, and some
websites that only address your topic indirectly. What if you created
a buyers guide for your favorite product or one that you know a lot
about? Allow user generated content so that visitors to your website
can leave their own reviews and rank various products in different
categories. Allowing this user generated content will have multiple
benefits. First, you won’t have to create as much of it yourself.
Secondly, a product with an average ranking of 9.1 out of 10 based
on a hundred reviews is far more convincing than seeing that Bob
from Bob’s Great Website rated it a 10. No matter how much Bob
claims to be an expert on the subject, the power of creating a
community of like minded people is far better. Focus on one niche.
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 155

Instead of doing computers, do light-weight notebooks. Instead of


doing sports, do badminton. Pick whatever topic you love and
create a website to help people buy the right product. In the
beginning, don’t worry about earning money. Just get the site built
(or pay someone to make it) and focus on making some great
content to drive traffic. Once you have an active community, create
some advertisements or earn money through affiliate commissions
(more on this below). Don’t compromise the integrity of your
reviews for advertising sake, and your community will stay loyal.
The ads must have useful content as well.

Pros: Users generate most of the content for you.


Cons: Takes time to build traffic.
Keys to success: Getting a critical mass of users and establishing
credibility.

• Real Estate Investor


Did you know that majority of millionaires invest actively in real
estate? The real estate market as a whole in the United States has
never had a down year, ever. No one is making any more of it, so as
long as the population of earth continues to grow, so will real estate
prices. Make no mistake about it, you are an entrepreneur if you
start a real estate investment business. You also don’t need to be
rich to invest in real estate. You can usually buy your first home with
100% financing. You can also buy an investment property with
100% financing if you choose to live there for the first six months or
so. Commercial property (any property with more than 4 units) can
be financed regardless of your credit or personal finances because
the bank looks at the property, not you. Of course, this doesn’t
156 Breaking Free

mean you should rush into debt if you can’t cover the payments.
This isn’t a book on real estate investing, so it would be valuable to
learn much more before getting involved. Read at least three books
on the subject and start attending local real estate investor meetings
in your area. Find someone who is a successful real estate investor
or real estate agent and buy them lunch (in general, buy successful
people lunch as often as you can, it’s one of the best ways to learn).
While at lunch, ask them questions about their life and how they got
started. Most people will be flattered and enjoy teaching you.
Follow up with them as you make progress and soon you will have a
mentor. This is by far the best way I’ve found to learn about real
estate (and many other subjects): surround yourself with experts.

Pros: Real estate earns passive income. You earn money while you
sleep.
Cons: Can be risky, watch out for scam artists and expensive
workshops on real estate that offer questionable advice.
Keys to Success: Educate yourself and build a network of people to
help you.

• Writer
Everyone has at least one good book inside them, and today it is
easier than ever to become a published author. But writing doesn’t
have to just be about books. You can start a blog, write articles for
publication, or create sales copy for other businesses. Don’t be too
quick to discount writing if you, like many, were never a good writer
in school. The type of writing we are forced to do in school often
isn't a good fit for the student, who then goes on to incorrectly
assume they are not a good writer! Just because you hated writing a
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 157

ten page essay on a Shakespearean character doesn’t mean you will


hate writing about what you love. In my own life, I was always a
mediocre writer by academic standards. I didn’t particularly care
about the required subject matter, so the writing was forced and
laborious. But once I graduated and had the opportunity to write
about what I knew and loved, the words just came naturally. The
secret to great (non-fiction) writing is just to tell a true story from
your life. Stories are the most basic building blocks of
communication that the human mind has evolved to understand.
Tell a story, and people will listen.
There are a few common misconceptions about writing
that shouldn’t deter you. The first is that you don’t have anything
original to say. All writers reference other sources, and no one else
has read the same books you have. Don’t be afraid to include
references to other's work; it will still be valuable to the reader who
hasn’t had the time to read all the books that you have. Secondly,
don’t worry about finding an agent or getting a publisher. Just start
writing. Great self-publishing resources exist today, such as
www.lulu.com, which can help any aspiring writer become self-
published for $100 or less. Read Dan Poynter’s book, The Self-
Publishing Manual: How to write, print, and sell your own book, for
inspiration and guidance. If you wish, start smaller with articles or
by making a blog at www.blogger.com. It is extremely easy and
you can have your first article published within an hour. Don’t write
with the purpose in mind to make money. It will never come to
fruition. Instead, write about a topic you love just because you love
writing and thinking about it. Over time you will accumulate readers
on your website and will begin to develop an audience. Money, in
the form of advertisements on your site (can be set up with a few
158 Breaking Free

clicks on www.blogger.com), paid articles, or affiliate commissions


will come over time as a result of not focusing on money. They will
be a byproduct of loving what you are writing about, whether you
get paid or not.

Pros: Earns passive income. Can lead to other sources of income


such as speaking engagements.
Cons: Many great books sell very few copies. You’ll have to become
a master of doing your own marketing.
Keys to success: Write non-fiction about what you know and love.
Tell a story.

• Reseller or Affiliate
If you have an interest in marketing, but not in making an actual
product right now, then you should consider reselling goods as an
affiliate. The business idea is simple, successful, and has been
around for years since Amazon.com started doing it back in 1996.
How does this work? Companies have products available for sale
online, and will pay you to let potential customers know about it.
When someone you refer ends up buying the product, you get a
commission. Thousands of companies on the internet offer all types
of affiliate programs to help bring them business. You are a creative
person and can most likely find a way to match people with potential
products they want to buy. The buyers guide website mentioned
earlier is one idea (careful not to let affiliate commissions bias your
reviews, web savvy readers will be able to tell if you are getting paid
for the referral). You can also make affiliate commissions off a blog,
mailing list, advertisements you create, and many other ways. If you
think you can design better advertisements than an existing company
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 159

with a great product, you don’t need to be an employee at the


company to convince them they’re doing it wrong. Sign up as an
affiliate and start making their ads for them! When the sales start
coming in, the numbers will be tough to argue with. The beauty of
this business idea is that it can be started on a miniscule budget, and
you take zero risk. You don’t need to keep an inventory of products,
fulfill orders, deal with charge backs and returns, or even ever speak
to a customer. Once the customer buys, you pick up a check and the
job is done.

Pros: You carry no inventory and don’t deal directly with customers.
Cons: Highly competitive and you must love marketing/sales.
Keys to Success: Study marketing and have a genuine interest in
helping customers find what they want.

• Seminar or Information Product


This is an exciting business idea that has made some people very
rich. Take your area of expertise (or develop one) on a subject you
love, and create a seminar to teach people about it. If you don’t have
all the answers, invite guest speakers to bring additional value to the
program. Offer each speaker the option of being paid for their time
or a chance to mention their website at the end of the program (most
will take the chance to mention their site). Rent a hotel conference
room, set a date, and seek attendees via local newspaper ads, relevant
mailing lists (which may be your own website), and word of mouth.
Making a profit from attendance is nice, but not entirely necessary.
In fact, some seminar organizers seek to only break even at the actual
seminar. Instead, they hire a small camera crew to record the entire
event. From this they create a DVD or audio information product,
160 Breaking Free

which will bring them passive income for years to come (meaning
each additional unit sold takes none of their time, it has good
economies of scale).
Information products and seminars can command a very
high price and a profit margin that would be considered absurd in
any other business. Four thousand dollars for a weekend seminar
and $500 for a DVD recording of the event is not unheard of.
Information, especially information that can earn you money or
improve your life in some way, is one of the most valuable products
you can sell. For example, think about how much importance some
people would put on getting out of debt, making it through a
divorce, becoming financially independent, or finding love. If that is
the primary problem in their life at the moment, then they would be
willing to give almost anything for your help. If you can’t imagine
yourself leading a seminar, and the idea of speaking in public brings
on panic attacks, you aren’t alone. Keep in mind that every single
successful speaker you see today was once exactly like you. In fact,
every top speaker I’ve ever met has told me they still get nervous
before a talk. It never goes away completely, and they have simply
learned to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To
improve your public speaking skills (and other areas of your life) I
highly recommend Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org). They
have clubs in every major city in the world and for a small fee (about
$50-$100 per year) you will learn an invaluable skill.

Pros: Highly lucrative.


Cons: Must become comfortable with public speaking and asking
people for their money.
Keys to Success: Provide real value, don’t do it to make a quick
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 161

buck. Develop a series of products. A low priced entry product


should draw people in and win their loyalty. Then they will buy the
next and the next.

• Make a Better Piece of Software


Most software that exists today is downright horrible. It has a steep
learning curve, throws esoteric error messages to baffled users, and
routinely crashes, destroying customer’s hard work. Most people
hate computers, and it’s not hard to see why. You don’t need to be a
computer scientist to design good software. In fact, it will most
likely be to your advantage not to have a computer science degree
because you are unbiased and you think like an actual user of the
product would (instead of like an engineer). The most important
part of designing good software is not all the technical stuff of how it
works underneath. It is the user interface, or how the user interacts
with the program (and this is the part most major software
companies today can’t get right). If you can draw and describe in
detail how you want every screen of an application to look, you can
outsource the development of it for very little money (although I
must admit it could run over $100 for anything more than a small
application). Most consumer software that is marketed to millions of
home PC users is bad enough, but business software that is used
internally in many companies is even worse. If you go into any
industry (real estate, insurance, car dealerships) and look at the
software they are using, you will most likely see many opportunities
for improvement. Sit down with the people who have to use the
software and watch them work. You don’t need to add new features,
just make the ones people use the most better. Most likely users will
be spending 80% of the time using 20% of the features of the
162 Breaking Free

program. Concentrate on those 20% and make them exceptional.


Get rid of the clutter and remove most of the features that are rarely
used. Less is more in this case. To get an education in good
software, read The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper and
Getting Real by 37Signals6. These are written for non-technical
people. Look at companies such as Google, Apple, and 37Signals,
who are among the few companies today creating software that
people actually want to use. Draw on paper (or in a graphics
program) each screen of your application, and describe in detail how
you want it to work. Post the project on Guru.com or eLance.com
and programmers from around the world will bid on how much they
will charge to make it a reality. Consider making the application
entirely web based and possibly open source. This is the future of
software.

Pros: Once the software is made, each additional sale (or subscriber)
takes very little of your time. Good economies of scale.
Cons: You must become a student of good user interface design.
Keys to Success: Make your application so easy to use that
customers fall in love with it and tell all their friends. Make the
transition to using your software seamless.

STARTING SMALL WILL LEAD TO


BIG SUCCESS
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of
good business ideas all around you. Hopefully you now have a better
idea now of the type and characteristics of a good first business to start:

6 gettingreal.37signals.com
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 163

low expenses, no employees, good economies of scale, and minimal up


front investment.
Once you have started a successful business your confidence will
skyrocket. You won’t be afraid to take on riskier and more challenging
businesses. It also may take you a couple tries to get your first successful
business. Don’t let this discourage you! In the world of entrepreneurs, a
failed startup is not a mark against you; it’s a badge of honor to be
proudly displayed. With every business you start that doesn’t work out,
the lessons learned will be far more valuable than any monetary loss.
They will be lessons you couldn’t have learned in any classroom or from
any guru. They will be personal and unforgettable because you actually
experienced it. With every failure, you will be one giant step closer to
success.
A reporter once asked Thomas J. Watson, former President of
IBM, how other companies could match the success of IBM. Watson
responded “double your rate of failure”. I think what he meant is this:
failure is the best way to learn so start doing it quickly and inexpensively.
It’s important to remember that failure and setbacks are not only likely,
they are necessary to your progress. You should actually look forward to
failures and setbacks because they represent an invaluable learning
opportunity that very few people will ever get. Looking back on every
“failure” or setback I ever had, the loss I experienced at the time (money,
time, etc) was always less important than the lesson learned. Relish every
opportunity to learn that you have. When you take on this attitude, you’ll
see that there really is no such thing as failure. In fact, the only true
failure is one you refuse to learn from.
Your success in a small business like those listed above will be
invaluable, and will guide you toward bigger and better projects!
164 Breaking Free

BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO


[BLANK]
I want to leave you with a quick reminder before finishing up the
chapter. If you found yourself saying “yes, but” or “that’d be great if
only” while reading the above business examples, then this reminder is
for you: are you coming up with excuses or legitimate reasons?
Look back to chapter two if necessary. It’s very easy to come up
with excuses, and most people’s brains have become very adept in this
area as a defense mechanism. I know because I did it, and still do! “If I
don’t come up with an excuse quick then I might have to actually try
this!” Remember, winners are those who say “I don’t have it all figured
out yet, but I know I can do it”. Losers are those who say “Yes, but”
and “It wouldn’t work for me”.
Make a shift in your thinking to look for solutions instead of
reasons not to. It doesn’t mean you have to love the examples above or
that they will be easy. Some of them may be right for you and some may
not. Each one has pre-requisites, but the idea is just to get you thinking
in the right direction.
If you find yourself resisting these ideas or getting angry and
defensive, this is good to notice. The fact that you are getting upset and
defensive is typically an indication that you know it has some truth deep
down. What if someone came up to you on the street and tried to
convince you the sky was green instead of blue. You’d laugh and
probably think they were a bit strange, but you certainly wouldn’t get
upset. You are so sure that the sky is blue, the very notion that it is
something else is just a bit ridiculous and silly. Getting into an emotional
argument with the person would be pointless because you know you’re
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 165

right. As human beings, we only get defensive when the person we’re
arguing with might actually be right!
Take comfort in the fact that even if you don’t have a complete
game plan for your first business now, you will be able to figure it out.
Any time you find yourself saying “I don’t know how to [blank]”, remind
yourself that you can learn anything or pay someone else to do it.

INTEGRITY – THE MOST


IMPORTANT BUSINESS VALUE
This is one of the most important parts of the book, which
many people will overlook. I want to make you familiar with two
different terms. The first is “don’t be evil”, an idea coined by Google,
and the second is “contributing value”.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as business owners is
to go ahead with an idea that doesn’t treat our customers with respect.
You may be thinking “I’d never do that!”, but it can sneak up on you in
unsuspecting ways. Maybe your profit margin is a little low so you decide
to put an extra fee in the “handling” charge during shipment that wasn’t
exactly clear up front. You’ll rationalize it to yourself that no one will
notice or that everyone else is doing it. Maybe you have some left over
inventory that you suspect is broken and decide to sell it “as is” anyway
with a no refund policy. Maybe you have some customers who are
delinquent on their payments, and you hand over their accounts to a
collection agency with a bad reputation for harassment. Maybe your
product is only useful to a certain group of people, but when someone
else unknowingly buys it, you happily sell it to them thinking “Their
mistake, more money for me!”
Is it your right to do these things? Yes. Will they often be
profitable in the short run? Yes. Should you do them? No.
166 Breaking Free

There is a simple litmus test you can do any time you come
across a decision such as this. Simply stop and ask yourself, “Am I
contributing value to the world?” and “If I were a customer of this
business, would I want it?” If you aren’t contributing value to the world
and your customer probably wouldn’t want it (whether they would know
or not), then don’t do it.
This is not only an ethical issue. This is sound long term
business strategy. This is not something that is optional and would be
nice to do. It is absolutely essential to be successful in business in the
long term. Treat your customers with respect. The Google motto to
“don’t be evil” roughly translates to “Do unto others as you would have
others do unto you”. If you think about the best business ideas in the
world, they were so successful and earned their creators millions of
dollars because they contributed value to the world. They weren’t
products that people regretted buying later. They were products that
people couldn’t live without, that dramatically changed their lives for the
better. These products were so successful because the early customers
went out and told fifty people how great the product was. These
products were designed with the customer’s needs in mind, not the
businesses. Would you be a customer for your company? If the answer
is no, then there is a problem. Address it before going ahead.
I’ll give you an example. You may be familiar with a company
called Netflix, who started up by asking a simple question: How can we
contribute more value to movie renters? The answer turned out to be
that movie renters hated late fees and wanted to keep the movies as long
as they wanted. With that simple idea, a new company was born that
quickly gained momentum. One of their major competitors,
Blockbuster, saw this as a threat and decided to compete by offering “no
late fees”. A national ad campaign swept the country to promote
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 167

Blockbuster’s new offering. Unfortunately for Blockbuster, it turned out


that their “no late fees” came along with some fine print, and wasn’t
entirely true. Once word got out, customers felt like they had been
misled, and there was even a class action lawsuit. Blockbuster suffered as
a result of this mismanaged idea. Were they contributing value to the
world? Not nearly as much as they claimed. Were they being entirely
honest and up front with their customers? No, the bond of trust was
broken. I’m sure the “no late fees” campaign was designed by some very
intelligent MBAs who evaluated the idea from Blockbuster’s perspective.
But they forgot to ask themselves the all important question: “Would we
want to use our own product?”
A second example can be found in the online credit-card
processing industry. To even order the product from most companies
today is extremely confusing. The industry standard is to have about ten
different types of fees. There are Application Fees, Annual Fees,
Address Verification (AVS) Fees, Leasing Fees, Termination Penalties,
Batch Header Fees, the VISA/MasterCard Qualified Discount Rate, per
Transaction Fees, Monthly Service Fee (including Monthly Statement
Fee), and Monthly Processing Minimum. Do you think the average
customer even knows what most of those are? To make it worse, most
companies hide the actual price several layers deep into the website, or
make you call to get it. It is impossible to compare prices between
competing companies because they all have hidden fees! In fact, it isn’t
uncommon at all for people to sign up for a service having no idea what
their monthly cost will be. People would just give up trying to figure it
out, because that was their only option. When Google released Google
Checkout, they said “How can we contribute value here?” They started
with the fact that no one knew what the heck all those terms were, and
they stated their price on the first page of their website: “2% per
168 Breaking Free

transaction plus $0.20”. There were those two fees, instead of ten. Is it
any wonder Google has such great brand loyalty? People love Google
because they are up front and honest. They treat their customers like
they want to be treated themselves.
Remember, integrity is not optional when it comes to business,
and it isn’t something you do to stay out of jail. It is something you do
to make tons of money in the long term because it is sound business
strategy. The old adage that says “find a need and fill it” is absolutely
true. Contribute value to the world, and the world will contribute greatly
back to you. Probably more than 90% of all business people today don’t
fully understand this concept. Your startup will have an incredible
advantage over them by using this philosophy.
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 169

CHAPTER 6 EXERCISES
Before reading this chapter, what came to mind when you thought
about starting a business? What types of businesses did you
imagine?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Now that you have read the chapter, what comes to mind when
thinking about starting a new business? What types of businesses
do you imagine creating? In what areas?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What (if any) new business expenses did you realize you could do
without? What (if any) employees did you realize you could do
without?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
170 Breaking Free

What projects or areas of your life have you been procrastinating


on? Do you really need to wait to start? Where can you utilize the
philosophy of “ready, fire, arm”?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What is the best case scenario of your business idea (if you have
one)? What will your income and daily work be like if your
company is a big success?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What business ideas (if any) sound appealing or like something


you’d like to explore further?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What ways can you (or your businesses) contribute to the world?
In what ways were you putting your business’s needs ahead of your
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 171

customer’s? Where can you gain a competitive advantage by using


the philosophy of “don’t be evil”.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
172 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 6 SUMMARY
• This is a totally different way to think about starting a business.
• You don’t need to take on big investment and risk.
• Being self employed simply means you pay yourself.
• Eliminate costs and expenses you don’t absolutely need.
• Start a business with zero employees.
• Don’t wait to get started. Just start with what you have now so you
can begin to get feedback.
• Use the philosophy of “ready, fire, aim”.
• Seek businesses with good economies of scale.
o Higher fixed costs, and lower (or zero) variable/unit costs
will win over time.
o Your time is valuable and limited.
• What if you succeed?
o Look at the best case scenario for your business, and make
sure you like it. You might get what you wish for.
• You can start a business for less than $100.
o Become a consultant.
o Create a buyers guide website.
o Become a real estate investor.
o Become a writer.
o Resell other people’s products for commissions (affiliate).
o Create a seminar or information product.
o Make a better piece of software.
• Start small and build your confidence for bigger projects.
o Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s a great learning experience and
necessary to have success.
o Carry your failures as a badge of honor.
What Kind of Business Should I Start? 173

• Leave excuses at the door and avoid “yes, but”.


o You can overcome any challenge by learning a skill or paying
someone else to do it.
• Always operate your business with integrity.
o Don’t be evil.
o Be up front and honest with your customers.
o Treat them as you would like to be treated.
o Would you be a customer of your own business?
o Are you contributing value to the world, or taking it?
Chapter 7
The Nuts and Bolts of
Starting a Business

“How dare you waste your life in exchange for a paycheck.”


- Seth Godin, bestselling author and entrepreneur

S o far we have discussed the idea of starting a company


theoretically. Now it’s time to get down to the actual steps
you will need to take. Some of you are saying “finally!” If you’re the
type of person who wants to focus on the practical steps (or the type of
person who skipped to this chapter first!) that is fine, but I do have a
word of caution. After starting a number of businesses and helping a
number of others start businesses, I’ve come to the conclusion that the
actual steps only account for about 20% of the success formula. When it
comes down to it, knowing the difference between an LLC and an S-corp
could be important, but won’t make or break your success. What’s far
more important, and what accounts for the other 80% of the success
formula, is what I’d call the “inner game” of starting a business. It’s the
material covered in the rest of this book, about your confidence, self
176 Breaking Free

doubt, peer group, learning habits, and motivation. After all, a motivated
person could easily find out the difference between an LLC and an S-
corp if they really needed to. If you’ve been reading this book frustrated
by the lack of details on the actual steps, then this chapter is for you. Just
keep in mind that to the person who ponders “When will we get to the
real meat of it?”, I reply “The mental game of starting a business is the
real meat of it”. The steps here will help you on your way, but without
the right “inner game” they aren’t of much use.
This chapter assumes you have an idea for a business and are
ready to get started. It is also written from the perspective of starting a
business in the United States. Starting a business is really not very
expensive and is easier than you might think. However, it can be a little
tricky the first time, so I’ve tried to lay it out here as simply as possible.
This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive explanation. People
will write me letters explaining how something in this chapter is not
entirely accurate in certain cases. That is fine! The number of special
cases the IRS has created could fill hundreds of books, but when starting a
business, they simply aren’t important. All you need to know are the
basics, which I will teach you here; the rest can be figured out later. Get
the business started quickly and easily; you can always come back later
once you have revenue. Getting too caught up with the legal and tax
details early on just costs you more money and distracts you from your
main goal. You could talk with some lawyers for months about some of
these topics and they will gladly tell you all the complex details and
charge you handsomely for their time (and you should probably do this
once you have money coming in the door). But if you just follow what’s
in this chapter to get started, you will be 99% of the way there and will
have more time and money to spend on making your company
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 177

successful. This chapter is more like a crash course than a


comprehensive guide, so treat it accordingly.
Disclaimer: Speaking of lawyers, I should mention that none of
this chapter should be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice.
Hopefully you find this chapter full of simple useful advice that is free
from unintelligible legal jargon. If you see a word you don’t understand,
please write me and tell me about it. I’m not quite sure why, but for
some reason lawyers and the IRS can’t write in a way that regular people
can understand. I’ll do my best to fix that but you are responsible for
how you use the information in this chapter

WHY GO THROUGH THIS


PROCESS?
The definition of “starting a business” is rather unclear. For our
purposes it will mean incorporating, separating the business financially
from your personal assets, and becoming legally recognized as a business.
The alternative is to not incorporate, in which case the business is simply
you. When you and the business are one and the same, you aren’t in a
very good position. If the business fails, your personal assets could be
taken and you won’t be able to deduct business expenses easily. This is
why we separate the business into its own entity by incorporating.
Incorporating your business has two important benefits: it minimizes risk
(liability) and offers tax advantages.
Incorporating minimizes risk because the business is treated like
a separate person. Think of it like another human being. If something
goes wrong, the company will get sued, not you. This is ideal because as
you experiment with starting companies, it’s possible for something
drastically bad to happen. If your business is incorporated then even if
your company suffers major losses, nobody can take your personal home
178 Breaking Free

away or drain your personal bank account. You can always just file
bankruptcy with the company and start over with a “clean” slate. It’s a
badge of honor, not a mark against you. Note: There are some special
cases where incorporating doesn’t protect you from liability which we
will discuss below.
Secondly, incorporating offers you great tax advantages that have
helped keep rich people rich for many years. When you own a business,
you can pay for business expenses with pre-tax dollars. This means that
your business related lunches and dinners can be expensed (or at least a
portion of them), along with part of your living costs (if you have a home
office) and your business travel costs. It’s not uncommon for business
owners to take 100% expensed business trips that seem a lot more like
vacations. For example, their flight, hotel, and nice meals are all paid for
by the company even though it is debatable what percentage of their time
was actually spent working. This gets into an ethical and legal issue, and
companies are occasionally audited in this area. Keep good records by
putting business expenses on a company credit card. This will keep a
perfect record automatically for tax time and is far easier than trying to
remember to keep written records yourself. It’s a judgment call what you
will expense and what you won’t. That being said, most entrepreneurs I
know wouldn’t hesitate to expense a dinner with a colleague where
business was mentioned, but the topics ranged from sports to how their
kids were doing.
If you are wondering what it means to “expense” something or
use pre-tax dollars, here is an example. Let’s say your business earned
$1000 profit this year and your tax rate is 33%. Through various
activities during the year, you spent $500 out of your own pocket on
business related expenses (the gas in your car driving to meetings,
meetings with clients, rent for your home/office, etc).
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 179

If you had not incorporated then you pay the full tax, 33% of
$1000, which is $333. You are left with $667 dollars of after tax profit,
and after deducting your expenses you are left with $167 of profit.
However, if you did incorporate, then you are paying your
expenses with pre-tax dollars. You deduct the expenses before paying
tax, so $1000 minus $500 in expenses is $500 of profit. This times your
tax rate of 33% is only $165 in taxes that you owe. $500 in profit minus
your $165 in owed taxes leaves you with $335 of profit at the end of year,
more than double the profit of your unincorporated counterpart.

Unincorporated Incorporated

Gross Profit $ 1,000.00 $1,000.00

Expenses $ 500.00 $ 500.00

Tax Rate 33% 33%

Taxable
Profit $ 1,000.00 $ 500.00

Taxes Owed $ 333.33 $ 166.67

Net Profit $ 166.67 $ 333.33


Figure 7 – Tax Advantages of Incorporating

In essence you are getting a discount every time you spend


money for the business because you are paying with pre-tax dollars. You
will always be working as you go through your normal life, and you
deserve to not pay taxes on business expenses. Make the effort to keep
track of them all, and the advantage is substantial.
180 Breaking Free

With the tax advantages, and necessity of limiting your risk,


incorporating and legally becoming a business is a no-brainer. We will
cover how to incorporate shortly.

DECIDE ON A NAME
Once you have an idea for a business, you’ll need to decide on a
name. By far the best method I’ve found to do this is a brainstorming
session. Get a blank piece of paper and a pen and start jotting words
down that come to mind about your business. Write words that have to
do with your product, how it is different from your competition, and the
values of the company. Just start letting the words flow onto the paper
as seeing one makes you think of the next. For example, let’s say I was
starting a business that offered consulting and information products in
the area of eliminating debt. Further, let’s say I differentiated my
business by offering personalized advice, and my strongest company
value was empowering minorities. Then I might start writing down
words as follows:

debt money help interest payments empower


“free and clear” education minorities underprivileged
“cycle of poverty” children literacy finances
wealth smart credit cards bad savings

You get the idea. Don’t worry about them making sense; just
lets the words flow as they come to mind. Now start combining random
words together and see what you come up with. Don’t be afraid to add
in new words you haven’t written down previously. Most importantly,
try not to judge anything you write down as being good or bad. We will
do that later. Force yourself to keep writing until you have at least
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 181

twenty business names, and don’t stop even if you see one that looks
perfect.

Empowered Savings Debt Education Credit Card School


Smart Savings Minorities Free and Clear Debt Busters
Financial Interests

Notice how other words came to mind like “School” and


“Busters” that weren’t in my original list. That is perfectly fine. See if
you can use repetition of initial letters, such as “Smart Savings”, for a
catchier title, or a double entendre like “Financial Interests” (the word
interests here has double meaning).
If you are starting a website business, your next step will be to
run all your options through a domain name checker like Go Daddy1 to
see which ones are available for use. It would also be a good idea to
check the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office to see if your name is
already being used by someone else2. If someone already has your name,
but your business is completely different from theirs, you may still be
able to use it. Finally, you’ll want to check with your local County Clerk’s
Office to see if anyone else is doing business under that name in your
county. If so, they will have filed a DBA form (stands for “doing
business as”) with the county. You’ll most likely have to do this in
person. Just tell them you’d like to check your business name with the
DBA office, and they should know what you are talking about.
Narrow your list down to names that are both available and
desirable. If necessary, sleep on it, do an informal survey with your

1 www.godaddy.com
2 www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm
182 Breaking Free

friends, do more brainstorming (include more people for better results),


and make a final decision!

EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION
NUMBER
Your next step to starting a business is to get an employer
identification number (EIN) from the IRS. It’s free and easy and you
can do it right now by calling 800-829-4933. You can also apply online
by going to www.irs.gov and clicking “Business”, then “Employer ID
Numbers”. They will create a provisional number for you right there and
mail you the paperwork later. Under entity type select “other” and enter
“disregarded entity” if you are incorporating by yourself. If you are
incorporating with partners you can select “partnership”. You’ll be
incorporating as an LLC (not a partnership) at the state level, but the IRS
doesn’t have a classification for LLC (more on this later). If you have an
idea for your business already, don’t wait, just do it right now!

Figure 8 – Temporary EIN Assigned via IRS Website Application

An employer identification number is like a social security


number for your business (remember, think about your corporation like
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 183

it’s another person). The federal government will use this number to
track all correspondence and taxes with your business. You will need this
number for the applications later in this chapter.

Figure 9 – The official EIN paperwork arrives a week later.

INCORPORATE AS AN LLC
There are several different types of companies that you can
incorporate as. Let’s take a brief look at each one:

• Sole Proprietorship – you by yourself, no liability protection


• Partnership – you with some other people, no liability protection
• Corporation – plenty of liability protection, plenty of paperwork
(think big companies, like IBM and Exxon Mobil)
• Limited Liability Company – you by yourself or lots of people
(doesn’t matter), plenty of liability protection, easy paperwork

Entire books have been written on that subject, and that was all
you needed to know. The LLC seems like an easy choice, right?
Granted, this is a bit of an oversimplification, but to be honest with you
184 Breaking Free

the details are really unimportant. For example, there is a specific type of
corporation called a Subchapter S Corporation, which is fairly similar to
an LLC. One may be slightly better than the other in certain cases, but
like I said before, who cares? The difference is minor and saving a few
percent on your taxes when you have zero profit is still zero savings. Just
focus on getting the business started quickly by using an LLC and keep
your mind on what matters. You can have a high priced lawyer look at
your company once you have money coming in the door (and any
choices you've made can always be changed later). The LLC was
specifically designed to help small business owners like yourself get
started, so that is what we will use.
So how do you actually incorporate? First, you will need to pick
a state. You can incorporate in any state, but Delaware is the best choice.
Why Delaware? Delaware is considered a business haven because their
court system is favorable to business owners and their state tax laws are
great for business owners. You pay zero state sales tax and you pay zero
business income tax to the state if your company resides outside
Delaware! For this reason, 58% of fortune 500 companies, and 50% of
all businesses in the U.S. are incorporated in Delaware.
Don’t have an office in Delaware? That’s fine. Many (if not
most) of the businesses incorporated there don’t have offices in
Delaware. They have what is called a “registered agent”. Basically this is
someone who maintains a P.O. box for you and forwards any mail to
you. In general, you don’t get much mail there because for all intents and
purposes your “real” business is established and running somewhere
entirely different. The entire process is totally transparent from your
perspective. You never have to go to Delaware, or even know what that
address is.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 185

Incorporating in Delaware can be done for a couple hundred


bucks. The company you pay to incorporate will also assign you a
registered agent for about $50 to $100. It is remarkably easy and
inexpensive.
You can pay a lawyer to help you incorporate, but they will most
likely charge you a couple thousand dollars. Instead, I’d recommend
going with a company online that will get you incorporated for a couple
hundred dollars. You can search www.google.com for “Delaware llc”
and get more hits than you could possibly want to see. I haven’t
researched all of them, but if you need one choice that has worked for
me, try www.delawareinc.com.
You will have to fill out some simple paperwork with your name,
business name, and employer identification number that you obtained
from the IRS (it’s a one page form).
The first document is called your Articles of Incorporation, or as it is
better known in Delaware, your Certificate of Formation. It can be
confusing, but these two names really mean the same thing for a
Delaware corporation.

Figure 10 – Certificate of Formation for a Delaware LLC


186 Breaking Free

The second document you should draft is called your Operating


Agreement which you will keep on file at your company office. This is a
formality which outlines the structure of the company and its partners.
You don’t need to submit it to anyone, but you should keep it on file to
show you went through the correct procedure to establish your LLC.
You can search www.google.com for “operating agreement llc” to get
some operating agreement templates, and then modify them to your
needs.3

Figure 11 – Sample Operating Agreement

3 Try www.formation-llc.com/operatingagreement.htm and


www.medlawplus.comforminfo/llc.htm
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 187

Finally, as an optional step, you should obtain a DBA (doing


business as) certificate for each county4 where you will be doing business.
I say optional because if you are doing business under the same name
you incorporated under, then this isn’t necessary. But if you
incorporated under the name “Inter-Galactic Shoe Manufacturing
Company LLC” and you decide to make your website something
completely different, like “Brian’s Shoes”, then it would be a good idea
to obtain a DBA.

Figure 12 – Example DBA form

Fill out the Articles of Incorporation to send to Delaware, the


Operating Agreement to keep for your own records, and (optional) the DBA
form for your local country clerk’s office, and you will be officially
incorporated!

4 Note that DBA's are based on the county, not the country.
188 Breaking Free

MAKING SURE YOUR ASSETS ARE


SAFE
Getting your LLC set up is great first step. You can now take
advantage of the tax breaks and rest easy knowing you have personal
liability protection with regards to your business. But there are a few
more steps you should take to cover all your bases.
Unfortunately, just because you have an LLC doesn’t mean you
are home free to do whatever you’d like. A few special cases exist where
small business owners will not be shielded from personal liability, and as a
budding entrepreneur it would be wise to know of them. Unfortunately,
some people have tried to take advantage of the LLC’s limited liability
status in the past, so the law has evolved to be more strict. A court can
actually rule that your LLC no longer has liability protection if you aren’t
careful. At that point the company will be regarded by the court as being
the same as you (a sole proprietorship), instead of a separate entity. In
legal jargon this is referred to as “piercing the corporate veil”. Your
business is no longer separate, and your limited liability is gone! The
following are a few reasons you could lose your status as an LLC.

• Your business engaged in fraud or some other criminal act.


• You misrepresented corporate officers or members.
• You failed to observe corporate formalities and keep records of
important documents (operating agreement, articles of
incorporation, DBA, and financial records).
• Your business and personal assets were mixed together.
• You treated business assets as if they were your own.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 189

As you can see, if you plan on doing anything illegal, the LLC
status will not protect you. What courts are most wary of are people who
create the company as a façade to conceal some shady dealings. In these
cases, you will not be protected. Therefore, to keep your status as an
LLC you must follow all the rules, even if you aren’t doing anything
illegal. This mean filing all the appropriate paperwork discussed above,
and keeping all your finances separate (more detail on this below).

GETTING A BUSINESS BANK


ACCOUNT AND CHARGE CARD
Congratulations! You now know the exact steps to get
incorporated and are well on your way. With each step, you will build
more confidence and get closer to your goal! The next thing you should
do is get a business bank account set up.
There are a number of reasons for this:

1. To maintain your corporate status (and your liability protection), you


need to keep your personal finances separate from your business
finances.
2. Keeping them separate will make things much more clear when tax
time comes.
3. It will help you keep track of your revenue, expenses, and profit
throughout the year.

Next you’ll need to select a bank. Many banks today have


started offering free checking for personal accounts, and the same is
starting to become true of business bank accounts. One that does (that I
have been very happy with) is Washington Mutual. You can use them or
if they aren’t available in your area, shop around and find a bank with
190 Breaking Free

free business checking and no annual fees. If you can’t find one, use an
online bank. You don’t need a branch, especially if you are comfortable
with deposit by mail5 and will primarily be doing electronic transactions
(such as billing people’s credit cards on a website).
See if the bank can give you a credit card (or even better, debit
card, don’t let yourself be tempted to borrow money) for your business
bank account. If the bank won’t give you one, get a business credit card
from another bank. This will be important for making purchases,
because when your use your business credit card it will automatically
create a record of your business expenses. Avoid at all costs making
purchases for your business on your personal credit card and then
transferring the money over later. You won’t remember, it looks
unprofessional, and it may get you in trouble legally.
Get some free checks with your business name on it, open the
account with an initial deposit from your personal account, and you are
ready to go. You can record your initial deposit as your investment in
the company on your operating agreement.
You should also record this initial investment in a spreadsheet.
This will help you build the habit of recording every single time money
moves between your business account and your personal account.
Remember, it is important to keep the two separate! Don’t just decide
one day that your personal account is low on cash and it’s time to move
some from the business account (or vice versus). That is called a
paycheck, and is a business expense, and it is important to record it. I
guarantee you that at the end of the year (tax time) you’ll be staring at
your bank records wondering where that money went when it left your

5 This service is offered by all major banks today, and it just means you can send checks
to be deposited through the mail instead of walking into a branch.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 191

account. If you don’t know what it is, then you’ll have trouble classifying
it as a business expense, and you might end up having to pay taxes on it.
That would be money wasted for nothing!
Remember, the best way to think about your business, is to
imagine it is another person. It’s not “your money” in the business
account to be freely taken out whenever you want; it’s the business’s
money. You just decided to invest in the business. Taking it out without
recording it would be like stealing from this “person”. In fact, they have
a word for taking money out of a business without recording it. It’s
called embezzlement, and it’s just as illegal as stealing.
This point can be a bit confusing to first time business owners,
which is why I stress it here. Always think of your business as a separate
“person” because if you and that “person” become one and the same,
then you are liable when someone sues the business. You want to keep
them separate so if your business goes bankrupt or gets sued, the
business absorbs the loss instead of you. Record all transactions by using
a business credit/debit card for expenses and a spreadsheet for checks.
When you are at business lunch, it’s easy to put it on the company card.
You just got a free discount on lunch because you paid with pre-tax
dollars and can expense 50% of the lunch. Never assume you will
remember some detail of a transaction, no matter how small. When
money is moving between your business and personal account, take
special care to record it. These are your paychecks and expenses and
should not be done on a whim. If you have partners, discuss it with
them before ever transferring money.
Set a salary for yourself (even if it’s very small at first) and pay
yourself first. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of saying “I’ll take
whatever is left over at the end of the month”. This is a bad idea because
it shows irregular transfers of money as compensation, and more
192 Breaking Free

importantly, there will often be nothing left for you at the end of the
month! By paying yourself on a regular basis and keeping careful
records, you are establishing good business practices from day one.

CREATE A WEBSITE
Your business will most likely need a website presence. This will
allow your customers to find you from all over the world and will give
you a business email address (or many) for more professional
communication. It is inexpensive to have a website these days, and will
cost you about $5-$10 per month. Always pay an outside company to
host your website for you, and don’t try to host it on your own computer
or server. Register your website with a reputable hosting company (you
can check BuyersVote.com for reviews) and you’ll be up and running in
no time.
To get the content of your business website created, you have a
few options. If you fancy yourself a webmaster, then by all means go
right ahead. With some fairly basic HTML skills you can actually create a
decent website by looking at other web pages and finding things you like
to copy (don’t copy it directly, but the look of it). For the rest of us who
are less technical or don’t have the time to put together a great website,
there are some other options. The first option is to use a website
template from a site like www.templatemonster.com and then modify
it. The second option is to outsource the creation of the website to
someone else through www.guru.com and www.elance.com.
Programmers from all over the world will help you create your site for a
very small fee.
Once you have your website created, here are some tools to help
you optimize it and get some more traffic.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 193

• Google Adwords
This will instantly get traffic to your site by buying inexpensive text
advertisements.
• Google Analytics
This will help you view your website traffic to see how people are
finding your site, how many hits you are getting, and which pages are
causing people to leave. It works with Google Adwords to show you
measurable return on your advertising dollars.
• Google Website Optimizer
You can use this tool to optimize the layout of your pages and test
different layouts; your sales conversions will go up dramatically.

PAYMENT SOLUTIONS
Next, your customers will need a way to pay you. For most
businesses today, and all those mentioned above, this means credit cards.
Today it is easier to get a credit card payment solution set up than ever
before. Think back to the “old fashioned” business model I discussed in
Chapter 6. If you have a restaurant you need to accept cash, checks, and
credit cards. Employees need to be trusted with cash registers (which are
expensive) and a system needs to be put in place to catch employees that
steal. Checks can bounce and never be paid. Accepting physical credit
cards requires a terminal which you need to rent from the provider and
you’ll have to buy rolls of thermal paper for it. All this means you are in
for quite a hassle with the “old fashioned” model!
Luckily, you are starting a business the smart way, which means
most likely the only thing you’ll need is the ability to accept credit cards
on the internet. For this service you will pay about 2% of each
transaction plus $0.20 to the credit card processing companies. This is
the fee for offering your customers convenient payment options. This
194 Breaking Free

money also covers the credit card processing companies’ risk. Credit
card fraud in its various forms (identity theft, chargeback’s, etc) make it
an expensive business. It is worth the 2% and really you have no other
choice.
When getting credit card processing set up, there are a couple
options which range from basic and inexpensive to professional and
more expensive.
Google Checkout6 is the best basic option in my opinion. You
may also want to check out Paypal7, which at the time of this writing
offers a few more features, but their customer service and user interface
aren’t as good. Either will allow you to create “buy it now” buttons that
customers can click to buy an item on your website and it will also
integrate with more complex shopping carts8. It is “basic” however
because it always requires the customer to leave your website to actually
pay (the address bar in the browser will show they have left your
website). Once they are done the customer is returned to your website.
This is usually an indication to your customers that you are a small
company who hasn’t set up a more professional solution. Does it really
matter? It’s is tough to say, but usually not. Some entrepreneurs try to
hide the fact they are a small company because they think customer’s
won’t trust them or be impressed. I believe this is a mistake. For one
thing, most customers are intelligent and will figure it out anyway. But
you should also be proud of being a small company, and use it to your

6 checkout.google.com
7 www.paypal.com
8 A “shopping cart” on a website is analogous to a shopping cart at the grocery store. As
you find items you want to buy, you place them in the virtual “cart” and go to checkout
when you’re done. It’s simply a container to hold everything you want to buy.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 195

advantage by highlighting the benefits to the customer (lower overhead


means lower price, personalized support, etc). The true benefit to using
a “basic” payment solution such as this is that all the hard work is done
for you. There is little or no programming involved, and all the technical
stuff is done for you. It will cost 2% of each transaction plus $0.20, but
there is no monthly fee.
The more professional solution is to use a company such as
Authorize.net9 with a custom shopping cart on your website. You’ll have
to hire a website designer to put this together for you. There will be
monthly fees of about $30 in addition to the 2% plus $0.20, but now you
will have the customer stay on your website the entire time, and a cleaner
look is possible. Beware that to program a system such as this yourself
requires some serious technical background. It’s better to hire an outside
firm (see www.guru.com and www.elance.com) if you have any
doubts. Even if you are a programmer, it might not be the best use of
your time to spend the next month fixing problems in your shopping cart
unless you are on a shoe string budget.
Something that is important to remember when designing your
shopping cart is the user interface (technical term for how the customer
interacts with it). A large percent of customers on the internet are ready
and willing to buy a product but simply give up because the checkout
process is confusing or annoying. If at all possible, don’t force your
customers to create an account, choose a password, or enter any
information that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use Google Analytics to
track the pages of the shopping cart and see where people are
abandoning the checkout process.

9 www.authorize.net
196 Breaking Free

EMPLOYEES VS. INDEPENDENT


CONTRACTORS
You aren’t supposed to be hiring employees! At least I hope you
aren’t. But I know some people will ignore my advice or get themselves
into a situation where they need other people. If that ends up being the
case, it’s important to know the difference between employees and
independent contractors.
Employees work for you full time and come with all sorts of
headaches like deducting taxes from their paychecks, offering benefits,
and calculating vacation days. Independent contractors are people that
work for you on a specific job, part time. They don’t require you to offer
any benefits, take taxes out of their paycheck, or worry about salaries and
vacation days.
If you can, hire independent contractors instead of employees
whenever possible. It is far less of a headache. Legally, you will have to
take certain steps to make sure you don’t cross the line into employees,
or the courts may argue your independent contractors were actually
employed! Make sure none of your company literature uses the term
“employee”, that your independent contractors are told they are
independent contractors, and that they sign documents accordingly.
Also, independent contractors are given a larger degree of control over
the work they do compared to their employee counterparts. Keep them
separate, and avoid hiring employees.

TAXES
As I stated earlier, the IRS has an incredible ability to write
documents that make no sense. Don’t feel bad if it’s confusing. I know
people who have a degree in accounting (CPAs) and even they still get
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 197

confused. That being said, taxes should not be feared, and you’ll be able
to do them yourself (at least in the initial stages of your company, later
you can outsource it). Your best friend will be Turbo Tax Business from
Intuit10. This piece of software will help you walk through the steps and
hold your hand through the tricky parts. You’ll also be entering all your
data on a computer instead of writing by hand, which will save you
plenty of time.
Keep accurate records throughout the year and back them up
regularly. When it comes to tax time, just buckle down and do it in a
weekend. Remember to deduct as many of your business expenses as
you can (it will be easy since you’ve been tracking them on your business
credit/debit card). Tax accountants would kill me for saying this, but if
you aren’t sure what something is, just skip it and keep going. It most
likely doesn’t apply to you. Despite what they say, the goal of taxes is to
get “close enough”. It is more of an art than a science. Sometimes
magazines will review tax preparation companies by sending them each
identical financial statements from a fictitious company. It’s rare for any
two tax returns to come back the same. If that’s how the big guys
operate, then you can afford to get “close enough”. Just don’t get greedy
and try to cheat. Only about 0.5% of new businesses get audited, but
even with those odds it’s not worth risking jail time and fines.

WRAPPING IT UP
You now have all the technical knowledge at your fingertips to
get a business off the ground. Even if something isn’t 100% clear, just
go ahead. You can figure it out as you go, and action is the best teacher.

10 turbotax.intuit.com - to be clear, I don’t think this software is particularly good, but it’s
the best I’ve found so far, and is certainly better than doing it on your own
198 Breaking Free

Remember to “ready, fire, arm”. You can also get questions answered by
other readers in the discussion forum on our website at
www.startbreakingfree.com.
Take a moment to look back at the chapter. Was starting a
business anywhere near as expensive as you thought? A few hundred for
the LLC setup was the main expense. Website hosting at $5-$10 per
month, a DBA for maybe $10 (if you even need it), basic credit card
processing with zero up front costs, and a free business checking account
are all very easy on the wallet. Do one per day for a week and you will
have your own business! My hope is that by putting this process in plain
English, more people will take the first step toward working for
themselves.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 199

CHAPTER 7 EXERCISES
This section will be a mini quiz instead of the usual exercises.
Answers are on the next page, when you’re done.

1. What are the two main reasons/advantages of incorporating?


2. Does incorporating protect you from 100% of liability?
3. What is the best way to decide on a company name?
4. How should you check to see if your company name is available?
5. A “social security number” for your business is called a [blank]?
6. Why should you incorporate as an LLC as opposed to any other type
of business (sole proprietor ship, partnership, or corporation)?
7. What state should you incorporate in and why?
8. Why should you get a separate business bank account for your
business?
9. Is the money in your business bank account yours?
10. What is the best way to keep track of business expenses?
11. How much will it cost to get basic credit card processing set up on
your company website?
12. What is the difference between an employee and an independent
contractor?

Please turn to the next page when you are done to check your answers.
200 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 7 EXERCISE ANSWERS


• Your liability is limited (they can’t go after your personal assets) and
there are tax advantages.

• No. You can still be personally liable if you do something illegal or


fail to follow proper procedure when establishing your LLC. This is
why you should maintain separate financial records and go through
formalities such as creating your Operating Agreement.

• Brainstorming

• See if the domain name is available at www.godaddy.com, see if the


trademark is available at the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office
website, and check with your local County Clerk’s Office to see if
someone else is already “doing business as” (DBA) your desired
name.

• Employer Identification Number

• LLC’s are designed for small business owners like you. They offer
the limited liability protection not found in sole proprietorships and
partnerships without the increased paperwork of a full corporation.

• Delaware. Zero business sales and income tax. Fifty percent of all
U.S. companies are incorporated there. Their court system is
favorable to business owners should you ever need to go to court.
You don’t need an office there; you will have a registered agent as
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 201

your proxy.

• This will help keep your financial records separate (which is


necessary to keep your LLC status) and it will be immensely helpful
keeping everything straight at tax time.

• No. It is the business’s money. Remember to think about your


business like it is another person. Money should not be transferred
back and forth with the business as if it’s another of your personal
accounts. Instead you should pay yourself a regular salary and record
all such transactions in a spreadsheet.

• A business credit card or debit card. Record all other business


expenses not on the card in a spreadsheet.

• About 2% of each transaction plus $0.20 for a basic setup.

• Employees require more work on your part because there are more
laws to deal with (taking out taxes, benefits, sick days, etc).
Independent contractors are a much simpler (and therefore cheaper)
way to involve others in your business if you must.
202 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY
• The actual steps to starting a business is only about 20% of the
success equation.
• 80% of your success comes from the “inner game” discussed in
other chapters.
o Overcoming self doubt
o Confidence
o Peer group
o Habits of learning
o Motivation
• You should incorporate because.
o It shields you from liability.
 Your personal assets are safe.
 To maintain this status you must follow all
corporate formalities and keep business finances
separate from your own.
o It offers tax advantages.
 You pay for company expenses with pre-tax dollars.
• Select a company name by brainstorming.
o List words using free association.
o Combine words into potential names.
 Don’t evaluate any and don’t stop till you have at
least twenty written.
o Check the name’s availability (domain, trademark, and
DBA).
• Get an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue
Service.
The Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business 203

o The IRS will use this number to track the taxes of your
business, like a social security number for an individual.
• Incorporate as an LLC.
o It offers the best combination of easy paperwork, and
limited liability.
o Incorporate in Delaware.
 No business sales or income tax.
 Favorable courts for businesses.
o Use an incorporation service online to get setup quickly and
inexpensively.
 Use a registered agent in Delaware.
• Get a business bank account with free checking.
o This will help establish your LLC and improve record
keeping for taxes.
o Use a business credit or debit card to keep track of business
expenses.
• Pay someone to host your website, and possibly to design it if you
don’t have the time or technical skills.
• Choose a payment solution, basic or professional, depending on your
budget and needs.
• If you must hire others, make them independent contractors when
possible, instead of employees. Try not to hire anyone at all (see
Chapter Six).
• Use TurboTax to do your own taxes. Keep track of expenses.
Chapter 8
Develop a Plan for Action! –
Making it Stick

"If you talk about it, it's a dream. If you envision it, it's possible.
But if you schedule it, it's real."
- Anthony Robbins

H ave you ever heard the term “conference high”? Many


people experience it after attending a conference,
reading a book, or having a powerful learning experience. They get
excited about the ideas they’ve just heard or read, they talk to other like
minded people who fuel their enthusiasm, and they leave on a great
“high” feeling as though they can conquer the world! But the feeling is
only temporary for them. They’ve had a long day, so they get home to
think it over and get to bed early for work the next day. Their head is
filled with great plans as they drift off to sleep, and the next day it’s off to
work for a full Monday morning. Problems pile up and need to be
solved at work, and soon they are immersed in their daily routine. By the
time they get home, they are exhausted and decide to put off their great
plan for tomorrow when they have more energy. The next day it’s their
206 Breaking Free

kid’s soccer game and they can’t miss that. The day after they take a
break to watch their favorite TV show because “they’ve earned it”.
Pretty soon a week has gone by and their great plans aren’t quite as
exciting. “I’ll still do it when I have more time” they tell themselves, but
they never get started. After a month they will think back on the
conference or book in passing and recall how excited they were, but they
won’t be able to quite remember why. The moment has passed, the
“high” has ended, and they eventually move back to their old life with
absolutely nothing changing..
What a sad story, yet it happens all the time. I’ve done it. You
probably have at some point. The purpose of this chapter will be to
make sure it doesn’t happen again.
I’m going to share with you several ways to stay on track and
make sure your dreams become reality. We’ll cover some specific ways
to implement constant positive reinforcement into your life, some productivity
and time management techniques, and we’ll finish with a written plan for
the future. By the time you finish with this chapter, you will have a
written step-by-step plan for quitting your job and starting your own
business.

CONSTANT POSITIVE
REINFORCEMENT
As creatures of habit, we are stuck in our ways. Shad
Helmstetter had a great analogy in his book, What to Say When You Talk to
Yourself, which helps illustrate this idea. He told a story comparing all the
old beliefs and limiting ideas in your head to a house filled with dusty old
furniture. Let’s say you decided to clean out the house, and put some
new beliefs into your head. I could come in to help you clean out the
house and we would spend all day moving tired old couches, creaky
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 207

chairs, and dim lights into the garage. At the end of the day, you’d be
sweaty and tired, but happy to see a beautifully cleaned out house. It
would look so neat and tidy with all the junk gone and you’d feel a great
sense of freedom! But as the evening came, you’d need a chair to sit on
and would retrieve one from the garage. You’d be hungry after a long
day’s work and would eventually have to bring the table in for one last
meal. After your meal you’d be awfully sleepy and might retrieve a
mattress to sleep the night. Slowly but surely the house would fill back
up with your old furniture, because I didn’t give you anything new to
replace the old.
You see, we can spend all day eliminating your old ideas, but if
we don’t replace them with new ones, the old ones will eventually return!
Constant positive reinforcement is not just nice to have, it is
required. I’m going to show you some ways to bring this reinforcement
into your daily routine that will give you incredible strength (and a new
set of furniture) over time. If we don’t continually feed great ideas into
our head, the old habits will come back, and our “conference high” will
fade. Here are some great ways to keep learning after you have finished
reading this book.

• Subscribe to Business 2.0


This is the best business magazine available today and many top
entrepreneurs I know read it religiously. Every time I read it I get
inspired and filled with new ideas.

• Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People


As I mentioned earlier, you are who you hang out with, period.
Your mother was right all this time. Make a commitment to find at
least three people who are either successful entrepreneurs or want to
208 Breaking Free

become one. The people who constantly complain about how much
they hate their jobs don’t count. Find someone who has already
started a business and has demonstrated their commitment with
action. You will find these people by going to entrepreneurship
related events and locations (small business association classes,
Toastmasters meetings, coffee shops near business schools, etc).
Build your network, and they will build you.

• Start Listening to Audio Books in Your Car Today


As I stated earlier, this is one of the most effective ways to build
constant positive reinforcement into your life. You have to drive, so you
might as well make it productive. I can’t tell you how many times I
have been sitting in rush hour traffic with angry frustrated people
honking and cursing all around me while I sit there thinking how
great it is to get some more of my book finished! As Brian Tracy
says, if you aren’t listening to books on tape in your car, you quite
simply aren’t serious about becoming successful.

• Spend a Moment to Focus on Your Goals Each Day


We become what we spend most of our time thinking about. If you
spend most of your time thinking about how you are too dumb,
poor, or busy to work for yourself, then that will become your
reality. If you spend most of your time thinking about how
successful you will be working for yourself, then it will become
reality. It sounds simplistic, but the truth often is. Personally, I like
to use the time I spend brushing my teeth and showering each
morning to review my goals. I repeat my goals over and over to
myself in my head, visualizing the outcome I want to achieve and
reviewing a list of things that I’m thankful for. A typical session
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 209

might sound something like (in my head, or out loud):

“Wow, it’s so great I didn’t have to go to work today, I’m certainly


thankful for that, I got to sleep in an extra hour because I work from
home and don’t commute through rush hour traffic, haha! I’m
thankful that the project milestone got finished this week and my
marketing campaign worked out so well. I also have been getting in
great shape. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty amazing! I’m so
thankful that I’m in this unique position and have so much potential.
Let’s see, what do I want to do today....well, I’m going to finish that
proposal first because it’s the most important to achieving my
income goal this year. I’ll make time to go to the gym. And I’m
going to read that report I’ve been meaning to get to. I’ve achieved
so much, I feel great!”

Does that sound pretty silly? Try it for six months and tell me if you
still think so! You can be your own best motivator and coach every
single morning. For more information read Shad Helmstetter’s,
What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.

THE EMERGENCY MOTIVATOR


This page is like the fire alarm! In case of emergencies, break
glass, open up the book to this page, and read it for a quick boost. I’d
suggest book marking it now by folding the corner of the page.
Are you experiencing some self doubt? As entrepreneurs we all
do, and we can’t let it stop us. Usually the moment you are about ready
to quit is just before success comes! Believe me, I have been there
myself. I was so close to quitting at times, I’d have my exit strategy
210 Breaking Free

totally planned. I knew how much I could liquidate all the business
assets for and had pondered what paperwork would need to be filed to
officially close shop. Then I’d wake up the next morning and slap myself
in the face and renew my determination! You will need someone there
to coach you through the tough times of self doubt, whether it is
yourself, an audio program, a book, this page, your peer group, or an
actual coach.

"Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success.


They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of
the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
- H. Ross Perot

Moreover, you must realize that failure is a good thing. Failure is


a good thing because it is the most valuable learning experience you
could possibly have. The lesson you get from most “failures” is worth
far more than the time or money lost in the actual “failure”. Does this
mean you should try to fail? No. But it does mean if you give up and
quit then you’ll miss out on the most valuable lessons of your life! Each
failure brings you closer and closer to success. Seasoned entrepreneurs
don’t fear failure. They know setbacks will come up in every project they
undertake. It is as sure as death and taxes. So instead they chose to look
forward to setbacks. They are the most wonderful opportunities to learn.

“Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next with
enthusiasm.”
- Winston Churchill
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 211

"Success is measured by how far you bounce back after hitting


bottom"
- General George S. Patton

Think about your self doubt as if it’s a little creature sitting on


your shoulder. Picture it in your mind and give it a name. He speaks
with the little voice in your head that says things like “This will never
work”, “What a waste of your time”, “Who are you kidding”, and
“Everyone will laugh when this doesn’t work”. Every time he speaks up,
imagine him there on your shoulder. Acknowledge what he says, and tell
him “Thank you for sharing”. Then punch him right in the face, send
him flying off your shoulder, and get back to work!

Figure 13 – The Self Doubt Creature

People who fail focus on the worst possible outcome, listening


to their self doubt creature. They stay in the “safety” of their jobs out of
fear and a lack of confidence. Winners acknowledge the self doubt
creature, and thank him for sharing, then ignore his advice and send him
flying!
212 Breaking Free

BE PERSISTENT, NOT STUBBORN


While keeping the mentality of never giving up, keep in mind
that this does not mean to be stubborn. What is the difference?
A person who is persistent has a goal in mind and will do
anything to achieve it. If they try one way and it doesn’t work, they try
another and another until it finally works. A stubborn person will
arrogantly think they have the perfect solution the first time. With blind
faith, they will continue to try the same method over and over even when
it isn’t working.
The definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and
over while expecting a different result. Smart people especially tend to
have a problem with this because they have been right their entire lives.
Things have come easily to them, and they’ve developed the hubris of
being very confident in their ideas. When it comes to business (or any
area they aren’t as familiar with) they will use the same approach of
assuming they know better than everyone else. It has worked for them
their entire life, so why not now? Even when the results are poor, they
will convince others they were right. They will even convince themselves
that they were right. A stubborn leader can drive the company into the
ground if left unchecked.
Instead, take a flexible approach to reaching your goals. Be
firmly committed to achieve your desired result no matter what. But be
flexible to try different approaches until you find one that works.
When you quit your job and start to work for yourself, you’ll
have to become your own boss. Many people find this to be a tough
transition because they no longer have to do anything. They may start
sleeping in late, wasting time, or spend all day “working” on tasks that
have little value.
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 213

There are many fine books written on this subject and I suggest
you read (or listen to) as many as you can get your hands on. Three in
particular that I enjoyed are Getting Things Done by David Allen, No BS
Time Management For Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy, Eat That Frog by
Brian Tracy, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen
Covey.
I will give you a head start however with a crash course in time
management right here.

1. All successful people think on paper. The very act of writing


something drastically increases the chances it will get done.
2. When you remember something you need to do, it must be written
right away. Don’t assume you’ll remember it later. Many people
prefer to keep an “inbox” of tasks to be done that they prioritize
later.
3. Work each day from a written to-do list. Write it the night before by
brainstorming everything you’d like to get done the next day. Circle
the top three most important things you’d like to get done that
would make it a productive day. Then mark the most important one
with a star. While you sleep your subconscious mind will be
pondering your most important task for the next day.
4. When you get up, go straight to work on your most important task.
Do this before you do anything else, like checking your email,
voicemail, or casual reading. Often your most important task will
also be the most difficult. Getting it done first, while your mind is
freshest, will give you an unstoppable feeling of confidence
throughout the rest of the day.
5. Never do a quick and easy task “just to get it out of the way” while
there are more important items on your to-do list. Our brain loves
214 Breaking Free

to creatively avoid hard work. Force yourself to complete your top


three items before finishing anything else on your to-do list.
6. Just as you write a to-do list before the end of each day, take a
moment at the beginning of each week, month, and year to write a
to-do list. Simply ask yourself the question, “What would I have to
get done this week/month/year for me to be happy?” Put the lists
on your wall or somewhere you will see them often. As you are
writing your to-do lists for the next day, glance at your “bigger
picture” lists to see if your day to day work is moving you toward
your bigger goals.
7. Have you ever spent the whole day working only to reach the end
wondering, what did I get done? Each day we are bombarded with
tasks that fall into one of four categories.
Not
Important Important

1 2
Urgent

3 4
Not Urgent
Figure 14 - Urgency and Importance Matrix. Where do you spend
your time?

Whether you are productive or not depends on where you spend


your time. Successful people spend most of their time in quadrants 1
and 3, while unsuccessful people spend their time in quadrant’s 2 and
4. Answering telephone calls (2), browsing emails (2), and surfing
the internet (4) are not important but take up most of our day.
When something important becomes very urgent, we will finish it at
the last minute (1), but successful people on the other hand spend
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 215

more time than anyone else in quadrant 3. They work on important


tasks with long term benefits such as building client lists, reading in
their industry, and building new products. They do it first thing in
the morning before any other tasks can come along to distract them.
8. Close your door, turn off instant messaging programs, unhook your
phone, and close your email program during scheduled long periods
of uninterrupted work each day. Every time our thought process is
interrupted by a well meaning coworker asking if we have a minute
or we pick up a ringing phone, it will take several minutes to get back
into what we were working on. Each time, these few minutes to get
“into” and “out of” the zone add up over the day to hours of lost
work. Technologies like instant messaging, email, and cell phones
have done wonders to improve business communications, but these
great tools can destroy your productivity if you let them. Set aside
part of every day to do uninterrupted work with your phone, email,
and instant messenger turned off.
9. Any items left on your to-do list at the end of the day can be moved
to the next day. Any item you move more than three times should
be either removed entirely or delegated. It wasn’t that important in
the first place.

You can implement the above to-do list and inbox in any
method you prefer. The technology geeks out there (like myself) may be
tempted to use a handheld computer, spreadsheet, website, or some
other high tech solution. However, after trying various high tech
solutions, I have to say that old fashioned paper and pen has been the
best solution for me. I just use yellow legal pads and two pens with
different colored ink. There is something about the very act of writing it
and putting a big line through it that gives a satisfying sense of
216 Breaking Free

completion. Brainstorming and writing goals on paper has been shown


to be more effective on paper. The reasons behind it are not entirely
clear. The main technology that I do use is a calendar system (Google
Calendar1) which complements the paper to-do list. In this case I think
technology wins out because I can schedule recurring appointments in
one action, drag and drop to reschedule, and get text message meeting
reminders sent to my cell phone whether I’m near my desk or not. In
the end, use whatever is easiest for you and helps you get more things
done!

HOW TO WRITE GOALS


When setting your goals for the week, month, or year, it’s
worthwhile to follow a particular format that many great minds have
written about over the years. First of all, your goals must be written
down. A goal that is in your head is nothing more than an idea. Writing
it will crystallize the goal and make you far more likely to accomplish it.
All written goals should be in the present tense, positive, and personal.
As you write them and repeat them to yourself, your subconscious mind
will begin to believe it, and they will become true.

• Present
The subconscious mind can only understand the present moment in
time. So instead of saying “I’m going to start a business” or “I will
start a business” say “I am starting a business”.
• Positive
You should always reaffirm positive beliefs about yourself. Instead

1 calendar.google.com
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 217

of saying “I don’t make bad investments” write “I make good


investments with a high rate of return”.
• Personal
You can’t change others, but you can change yourself. Instead of
writing “My boss will transform into a nicer person” try “I will
perform better at work and get along with my boss”.

Each time you write your goals, take a minute to evaluate them.
Was that a positive belief about myself that I just wrote? Am I trying to
change something outside my control or am I focusing on myself? Am I
talking about the future here or did I phrase it in the present tense? A
goal that starts off as “I will try to....” is doomed from the start. In fact, I
cringe every time I hear someone say “I should really get to the gym more
often” or “I’m trying to start a company right now”. The very act of
writing “try” or “should” indicates a lack of commitment and a high
probability of failure. Either you are starting a company right now, or
you probably never will.
A good goal has two other properties; it is measurable and has a
deadline. This is where many people drop the ball, even big time company
CEO’s! Writing a goal that isn’t measurable has one major problem: you
can’t tell whether you’ve reached it or not. Finally, you must have a
deadline to create a sense of urgency. Without a deadline you may
complete your goal, but it won’t be nearly as soon as you’d like.

• Measurable
Instead of writing “This year I earn more money” try “This year I
earn $100,000”. If your goal isn’t measurable then you won’t be able
to determine if you achieved it or how close you are.
218 Breaking Free

• Deadline
Instead of “I sell 1000 widgets” try “I sell 1000 widgets by June 1st
this year”. This provides a sense of urgency and a timeline to follow.

One final tip about goal setting has had a profound effect on my
life2. How often have you been working toward a goal, had moderate
success, and quit part way through the process? It happens to all of us at
some point. It’s fun to make progress and improve every day. We get
excited and a sense of accomplishment! But when we are about 75% of
the way toward completing the goal, the end is in sight. We’ve gotten
this far, and we know we’re going to make it. Suddenly it’s not so fun
anymore. The challenge is gone and we know there isn’t much more left
to do. We’ve been having fun making all this progress, and we know it’s
about to end. This is the point when we subconsciously sabotage
ourselves so that we can keep having fun. We are no longer motivated
and we slip back down the slope of progress only to experience the fun
of going up again! (The brain sure works in funny ways, doesn’t it!)

2 I first learned of this from a success coach named Linda Starr.


Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 219

100%

(boredom, unmotivated, sad)

75%
Progress

(excited, motivated, inspired!)

Time

Figure 15 When you reach 75% of your goal, double it! Avoid the danger area of
boredom, low motivation, and self sabotage.

The irony of setting goals is that you should never actually reach
them! Instead, when you reach 75% of your goal, set a new target even
higher. A good new goal to set is double what you were aiming for. The
paradox of success is that many people who reach their goal feel
depressed or sad. The fun part of success is the ride up, not actually
reaching the top. Therefore, instead of actually reaching your goal (or
what is more likely, getting close only to experience a lack of motivation
or self sabotage) set a new goal when you are 75% of the way there. In
this way, you will continue to grow without ever actually reaching one of
your goals.
220 Breaking Free

SET A SCHEDULE
Congratulations for getting this far! You’ve done what other
people were unwilling to do. You recognized that you wanted to make a
change, picked up a book for more information, and went through it.
You now know more than 95% of people about how to start a business.
You also know the biggest secret of all: it can be done with less money
and risk than most people realize.
Are you ready to take the next step? Only you can make the
decision. If you are still unsure you may want to go back and re-read
Chapter 2. Becoming self employed isn’t for everyone and isn’t without
risk, but for those who commit to it and find passion in working for
themselves, it can be one of the best decisions of their life.
You could read this entire book, do the exercises, and learn lots,
but if you don’t take action it was merely entertainment. The time to act
is now. If you are ready to proceed down this path, it’s time to commit
by scheduling the next steps. As Anthony Robbins says: “If you talk
about it, it's a dream. If you envision it, it's possible. But if you schedule
it, it's real.” As the final exercises in this book, go with me through the
following pages to set a date next to each action you’ll need to take. At
the end you will sign your name to show your commitment, so think
carefully about your answers. If this seems silly, please still try it.
Remember, I thought it was silly too, but when I started writing my
goals, they started getting done. I can’t explain why it works, but I know
it has worked for myself and many others. What do you have to lose?
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 221

BREAKING FREE PROMISE


I will make three friends who are supportive and interested in starting
a business by ___________________.
I will get three audio programs or books to start my life of ongoing
learning by ___________________.
I will select one other idea for constant positive reinforcement from this
book and implement it by ___________________.
I commit to starting the transition into quitting my job now. I will (1)
work nights and weekends on my new business, (2) get a different job
with more flexible hours, or (3) save enough money to live for six
months without income (circle one) by _____________.
I commit to deciding on my first business to start by
___________________. It will have low up front investment,
require zero employees, have good economies of scale, contribute to
the world, and fit into my life’s purpose.
I will have an Employer Identification Number, business bank
account, and be incorporated as an LLC by ___________________.
I will quit the job that requires me to spend one third of my life
doing something I don’t love by ___________________!
I commit to not letting excuses in my mind turn into legitimate
reasons. I commit to telling my self doubt creature “thank you for
sharing”, and then continuing my work. I commit to focusing on
what I want each day, not the things I don’t want.

Signed: ______________________________
Date: ________________
222 Breaking Free

Congratulations! Napoleon Hill once wrote that “What the


mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." You’ve just taken
a major step toward achieving. The very act of writing what you want
puts you in the top 1% of all adults in the United States. Please take a
moment to cut The Breaking Free Promise out of the book (or print it if you
have an electronic copy). Put it on the wall in your (home) office, or next
to the bathroom mirror where you will see it every day. You’ve created a
roadmap for your own success and you will be getting closer and closer
every day. As creatures of habit it is so easy to fall back into our old
ways, after the “conference high” has faded. Seeing your written
commitment each day will help turn the tides in your favor, as your old
habits slowly fade and are replaced by new ones.
As we reach the end of this book, I’d like to leave you with a
final thought. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t run into an old friend
who I haven’t seen in a while. Inevitably the topic of work comes up as
we catch up on lost time together. I am always amazed by the number of
people who tell me how unsatisfied they are with their current job. It
seems almost everyone these days is casually in the market looking for a
new job, deciding between offers based on who pays more, considering
going back to school, or vying for another position in the same company.
Most people don’t hate their jobs, but they certainly do not love their jobs.
After all, how many people do you know who look forward to Monday
mornings? Yet, they have grown to accept it. Somehow, the idea that
work shouldn’t be fun has spread throughout our society like a terrible
virus. People assume the eight hours a day you spend working is a
required hardship for a normal life. We hear remarks all the time about
how “My job isn’t so bad”, “At least it has good benefits”, and “Nobody
likes their job all the time”. People compare themselves to others with
even worse jobs to make themselves feel superior.
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 223

Why do we accept such levels of mediocrity for ourselves? The


answer is fear. When it comes time to decide between a steady paycheck
and betting the farm on yourself, most people take the “safe” route. I
did. I took the steady paycheck (for a period of time) because I was
afraid. I was afraid that if I failed in my own business, people would
think I was a fool. I was afraid because I thought maybe I didn’t know
enough. I was afraid because I didn’t want to temporarily take a pay cut
and give up my standard of living in the short term. I was afraid that my
friends (and the opposite sex) might think I was unemployed and a loser.
I was afraid of what my parents would think. But one thing scared me
more than anything else: waking up in 20 years to discover I hadn’t lived the life
I wanted.
What would it feel like to know that you never did what you
wanted because you were scared? That was the scariest thing of all. Of
all the things I wanted, working for myself was the way to get there. I
wanted to achieve financial success most people only dream of, to
change the world for the better and leave my mark, to wake up every day
excited about my work, and most of all I wanted complete freedom in
my life. I finally decided it would be better to do my best and fail than to
never know. So I took the plunge. There were ups and downs but it
turned out to be the best decision of my life to date, and I almost didn’t
make it.
Nothing I did was special or unique. Anyone can do it. It is my
sincere hope that you are one of the people who doesn’t play it safe, who
follows their path to self-employment, and reaps the rewards through an
incredible life. Get started today! Go out now and do the first item on
your schedule. I wish you all the best!
224 Breaking Free

CHAPTER 8 SUMMARY
• A “conference high” follows a powerful learning experience, but
quickly fades.
• Constant positive reinforcement is the best way to make sure that
what you’ve learned stays with you.
o We can clear out the furniture of your mind, but if we don’t
replace it with new furniture, the old will return.
o We are creatures of habit.
o Subscribe to Business 2.0.
o Surround yourself with positive people and build a peer
group.
o Listen to audio books in your car.
o Spend a moment to focus on your goals each day. Build it
into your daily routine such as when you are showering or
brushing your teeth.
• Use the emergency motivator when self doubt is becoming too
strong.
• When the self doubt creature rears it’d ugly head, thank it for sharing
and punch it off your shoulder.
• Be persistent yet flexible by trying many approaches, not stubborn.
• Study time management to be more productive.
o Work from written to-do lists.
o Spend more time on tasks that are important and not urgent.
• Write goals that are in the present, positive, and personal. Make
them measurable and give them a deadline.
• When you’ve reached 75% of your goal, double it. We tend to self-
sabotage when the end is in sight.
Develop a Plan for Action! – Making it Stick 225

• Follow the Breaking Free promise by putting it on your wall where


you will see it every day.
• Don’t let fear prevent you from living the life you’ve always dreamed
of!
Afterword

Now that you’ve read the book. Here are a few ideas to help
keep you going!

• Join us on the web at www.startbreakingfree.com


Here you can get your questions answered, discuss with other
readers of Breaking Free, and find additional resources. Would you
like to meet other budding entrepreneurs as part of your constant
positive reinforcement? On our website you can link up with other
reader. Just meeting a few people and staying in touch can do
wonders to help keep you on track.

You should also sign up for the RSS or email newsletter on our
website. Once or twice a week we make posts there to keep the
“conference high” going. They could be reminders of material
covered in this book, inspiring success stories, or new ideas that
weren’t available at the time the book was published. What better
way to build constant positive reinforcement into your life?

• Teach this to someone else


Some time in the next week, take something interesting you learned
from this book and teach it to someone else! Numerous studies have
shown that teaching a subject is the best way to learn it and
228 Breaking Free

internalize it.

Moreover, tell someone else about this book if it has inspired you.
Have them sign up for the free newsletter on our website to get
them started, give them your copy to read, or send them their own.
The more friends you have with the right mindset, the better shape
you will be in. If you give someone a gift that changes their life for
the better, they will be eternally grateful, and you’ll help yourself in
the process.

• Please Send us your feedback


All comments, questions, and media inquiries can be sent to:
feedback@startbreakingfree.com

Finally, if this book helped you out in anyway, please let me know! It
made the book worth writing every time I hear from someone whose
life it has changed. I look forward to hearing from you too, and I
wish you all the best!

Sincerely,

Brian Armstrong
brian@startbreakingfree.com
Recommended Resources
• 1and1.com
An excellent place to host your business website.
• Amazon.com
An easy place to purchase books. Each time you see a book you’d
like to read, add it to your cart. Wait until you have at least $25
worth before purchasing and you’ll never pay for shipping.
• Authorize.net
A good service to accept credit cards on your business website.
• Basecamphq.com
An excellent product by 37Signals. Use it to collaborate with others,
and learn from it as a great business model.
• Blogger.com
Get started as a writer in just a few minutes by creating a blog. Drop
dead simple to use.
• Breakthrough Rapid Reading - Peter Kump
Do the half hour exercises in this book every day for a month, and
you can double your reading (and comprehension) rate.
• Business 2.0
The best business and entrepreneurship magazine available today.
• Delawareinc.com
Quickly incorporate your business in Delaware and get setup with a
registered agent.
• Eker, T. Harv
Read or listen to his programs such as the Millionaire Mind. Highly
recommended.
230 Breaking Free

• eHow.com
An excellent resource of “how to” articles on all topics.
• eLance.com
Use this website to outsource work, instead of hiring employees.
• Getting Real
An excellent book by the people at 37Signals on how to start a
business (and how to design great software).
• Getting Things Done - David Allen
A good read to improve your productivity in your home office.
• Good to Great - Jim Collins
One of the best business books of all time.
• Google Search, Adwords, Website Optimizer, Analytics, and
Checkout
You should be using Google as a resource every day. The tools they
provide are second to none for your business websites.
• Guru.com
Another excellent website to outsource work.
• ING Direct
They offer one of the highest yielding savings accounts today. Start
saving for your entrepreneurship fund here.
• Logoyes.com
Quickly and easily design a logo for your business.
• Lulu.com
Excellent resource to self-publish information products at a low
price.
• Millionaire Next Door, The - Thomas Stanley and William
Danko
This book will change the way you think about success and money.
Excellent read.
Recommended Resources 231

• Networking With Millionaires - Thomas Stanley


Networking and word of mouth marketing are among the best ways
to grow your business. A great read on the subject.
• No BS Time Management For Entrepreneurs - Dan Kennedy
Read this and you will get more done in every day as your own boss.
• Paypal.com
A good alternative to Google Checkout.
• Rich Dad Poor Dad and Cash Flow Quadrant - Robert
Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki’s books are inspiring and are a great addition to
your constant positive reinforcement reading.
• Robbins, Tony
Tony is the ultimate success coach. Read and listen to his books as
soon as you can.
• Self-Publishing Manual, The - Dan Poynter
A great resource for writers and information product creators.
• Skype.com
A great tool for operating your business with low expenses. Very
inexpensive international calls, video conferencing, etc.
• Starr, Linda
An exceptional coach based in Houston, TX who taught me the
“75% rule” (see Starr, Linda in index).
• TemplateMonster.com
An inexpensive way to get a professional business website put
together quickly.
• The Inmates Are Running the Asylum - Alan Cooper
A great read about how poorly software is designed, and how you
can make it better in your own business.
232 Breaking Free

• The Secret
An inspiring video to help you stay positive and bring what you want
into your life. It can be viewed at www.thesecret.tv.
• Toastmasters.org
An outstanding organization to help improve your public speaking,
confidence, and management skills. Also a great networking
opportunity. Highly recommended to improve your abilities as an
entrepreneur.
• Tracy, Brian
One of my favorite success authors. His The Psychology of Achievement
is a must read (or buy as an audio program). His other programs on
time management are also exceptional.
• TurboTax
Generally, I don’t like this product, but I recommend it because it’s
the best thing I’ve found so far for doing your business taxes.
• Washington Mutual
A good place to get your business bank account set up with free
business checking.
• Way of the Superior Man, The - David Deida
An excellent book about purpose and following your path in life to
achieve greatness. Can be read by both sexes.
• What to Say When You Talk To Yourself - Shad Helmstetter
A classic book on how negative we are when talking to ourselves,
and how changing this will lead to great success in life.
• Wikipedia
The best and most thorough encyclopedia every created. An
indispensable resource.
Index
37Signals, 164 bartending, 84
accountants, 200 Basecamp, 142
action, 9, 18, 28, 36, 37, 62, 68, beliefs, 67, 93, 208
93, 101, 118, 124, 207, 210, negative, 93
218, 222 benefits, 144, 199
admiration, 121 Blockbuster, 168
affiliates, 157, 160 blogs, 158, 159
alarm clock, 16 books on tape, 70, 210
Allen, David, 215 boredom, 104
Amazon.com, 43, 77 brainstorming, 30, 38, 41, 131,
analysis paralysis, 148 182, 184, 215
anxiety, 33, 34, 57 brand loyalty, 170
Apple, 164 Branson, Richard, 24, 119, 137
Aristotle, 79 Brian Tracy, 35
articles of incorporation, 187, Brin, Sergey, 24
190, 191 bureaucracy, 9, 143
assets, 80, 190, 191 business
assistants, 140, 141 expenses, 180, 200
attraction, 105 name, 182
audio books, 70, 210 old fashioned ideas, 137, 138,
auditors, 180 154, 196
Authorize.net, 198 starting a, 177
badge of honor, 165, 180 typical, 137
bank account, business, 191 what type to start, 28, 137
bankruptcy, 180 Business 2.0, 209
234 Breaking Free

business cards, 140 confidence, 18, 57, 61, 75, 81,


businesses 127, 147, 154, 165, 177, 191,
examples, 155 213, 214, 215
pricing, 155 compared to competence, 62
strategy, 168 constant positive reinforcement,
buyers guide, 160 68, 69, 77, 208, 227
buyers guides, 156 consulting, 38, 120, 155
categories of work, 103 contracts, 127, 140
celebrities, 24, 112 contributing value, 106, 108,
certainty, 60, 64 109, 167, 168, 169, 170
certificate of formation, 187, control, 16, 31, 32, 33, 63, 128,
188 219
charge card, 191 Cooper, Alan, 164
charity, 108 corporation, 35, 185, 187
childhood, 122, 123 as another person, 185
Churchill, Winston, 212 county clerk's office, 183
class action lawsuit, 169 Covey, Stephen, 103, 215
classes, 45 creating events, 32
Collins, Jim, 109 creative avoidance, 118
commitment, 222 credit card payment solutions,
commuting, 15 196
competence credit card, business, 180, 192
compared to competence, 62 credit-card processing industry,
compounding interest, 87, 88, 169
92 Danko, William, 94
conference high, 207, 209, 224, DBA, 183, 189, 190, 191, 201
227 debit card, business, 192
debt, 80, 94, 95, 139, 158, 162
decisions, 13, 23
Index 235

deductions, 181, 200 cost benefit analysis, 145


defensive, 166 firing, 145
Deida, David, 101 hiring, 144
Delaware, 186, 187, 188, 190 hiring wrong person, 144
deposit by mail, 192 lawsuits, 145
depression, 126 quitting, 145
diet, 10, 16 stealing, 145, 146
different job, 81, 83 vs. independent contractors,
disregarded entity, 184 198
doing business as, 183, 189 employer identification number,
don’t be evil, 167, 168 184, 185, 187
dreaming big, 34, 124 energy, 16
Eat That Frog, 215 entrepreneur
eating an elephant, 36, 49 defined, 141, 154
e-Books, 61, 149 struggling financially, 80
economies of scale, 149, 151, entrepreneurship fund, 92, 96
155, 162, 164 entry product, 162
Edison, Thomas, 38 ethics, 168, 180
eHow, 43 excitement, 7, 33, 34, 35, 106,
Einstein, Albert, 88 129, 132
Eker, T. Harv, 36, 80, 93 excuses, 23, 24, 25, 35, 36, 49,
eLance.com, 45, 164, 195, 198 58, 63, 66, 118, 166
Electronic Arts, 9 age, 36
embezzlement, 193 don't know how, 24, 25, 40,
employees, 9, 11, 45, 82, 138, 42, 166, 167
140, 141, 143, 144, 145, 146, education, 38
147, 148, 160, 164, 196, 198, family, 38
199 money, 38
benefits, 144
236 Breaking Free

no good ideas, 11, 15, 19, 27, Ford, Henry, 23


30, 37, 38, 71, 127, 131, formalities, 191
133, 227 forums, 42, 201, 227
exercise, 10 franchises, 38
expenses, 89, 137, 164, 180 fraud, 191, 196
calculator, 94 free time, 11, 30, 81, 82, 110,
reducing, 94, 140 111, 113, 119
experience, 23, 25, 36, 146, 149, friends, 15, 63, 64, 65, 66, 70,
154 121, 143, 209, 228
expertise, 104 From Good to Great, 109
façade, 191 frustration, 104
failure, 14, 49, 57, 64, 66, 73, fulfillment, 12, 19, 102, 103,
165, 212, 213 104, 110
learning, 165, 212 funeral, 129
family, 15, 26, 32, 33, 63, 64, 68, Gates, Bill, 27, 117
74, 107, 121, 146 Getting Real, 164
fear, 11, 12, 57, 58, 66, 118, 124, Getting Things Done, 215
212, 213, 225 Go Daddy, 183
feeling, 18, 129 goals, 32, 47, 48, 68, 71, 126,
feelings, 129 210, 211, 218, 219, 220, 221,
finances, 25, 79, 81, 157, 191, 222
192 deadlines, 219
financial independence, 162 measurable, 219
firing employees, 145 measurable and written, 92
first step, 7 saving, 91
fixed costs, 150, 151 writing, 218
flexibility, 214 God, 128
flexible hours, 81, 84, 96
food, 142
Index 237

Google, 24, 42, 84, 142, 164, incorporating, 149, 179, 180,
167, 168, 169, 195, 196, 197, 182, 184, 187
198, 218 state, 186
Grand Canyon, 67 independent contractors, 144,
guilt, 9, 93, 95, 104 198, 199
Guru.com, 45, 164, 195, 198 information products, 155, 161
habits, 32, 36, 67, 69, 70, 81, 86, ING Direct, 87
93, 95, 102, 178, 193, 208, Inmates are Running the Asylum,
209, 224 The, 164
happiness, 13, 17, 35, 102, 106, inner game, 177, 178
110, 129, 216 inner voice, 14, 36, 58, 108, 130,
health, 10, 142 213
Helmstetter, Shad, 208 insignificance, 103
help desk, 85 integrity, 167, 170
helping others, 107 interviewing, 144
Henry Ford, 177 investment, 44, 59, 69, 88, 92,
hero worship, 24 139, 157, 164, 193
heroes, 120 IRS, 178, 179, 184, 187, 199
hiring, 144 isolation, 142
cost benefit analysis, 145 job
wrong person, 144 different, 81, 83
home office, 141, 180 loving it, 28, 30
hours, work, 9 not who you are, 127
IBM, 165, 185 journey, 20, 101, 114, 126
ideal self, 47, 48, 65, 124, 129 Kennedy, Dan, 215
ideas, 14, 131, 133 Kennedy, Robert Francis, 57
identity, 27, 73, 127 lawsuits, 194
importance, 103, 106 lawyers, 140, 178, 179
learn new skills, 25, 42, 144, 227
238 Breaking Free

learning new skills, 139, 148 possible to earn, 112


Leno, Jay, 120 temptation of, 8
liability, 179, 180, 185, 190, 192 monthly expenses, 89, 91, 92
limited liability, 190 mood, 129
limited liability company, 185 motivation, 211
Lindahl, Sheena, 127 mutual funds, 80, 87
living frugally, 94 Napoleon Hill, 224
LLC, 177, 178, 184, 185, 186, natural tendency, 119
188, 190, 191, 201 negative people, 63
locus of control, 31, 32, 33, 62, negative thoughts, 57, 58
102 nervousness, 58, 61, 62, 162
logic, 129 net profit, 181
long distance phone calls, 141 Netflix, 168
love, 105 networking, 44, 155, 158
loving your work, 117 Networking with Millionaires, 155
mediocrity, 13, 18, 64, 225 new cars, 95
meetings, 140, 141, 142 niche markets, 156
mental game, 178 nights and weekends, 28, 81, 83,
mentors, 70 155
Millionaire Mind, 93 No BS Time Management For
Millionaire Next Door, The, 80, 94 Entrepreneurs, 215
millionaires, 35, 39, 87, 94, 139, no matter what, 71, 72, 73, 118
157 non-compete agreement, 82
mindset, 41, 214 office buildings, 7, 139, 140, 142
Minesweeper, 119 office equipment, 142
Mondays, 11, 30, 35, 132, 207, open source software, 164
224 operating agreement, 188, 189,
money, 16 190, 191
how much is needed, 88 outsourcing, 25, 42, 45, 195
Index 239

overtime, 9, 15, 83 perceived value, 155


Page, Larry, 24 persistence, 214
parents, 13, 25, 39, 63, 66, 84, personal assets, 179, 191
120, 123, 129, 225 personal assistants, 147
part time work, 83, 85 phone calls, 141, 143
partnerships, 42, 46, 146, 184, picturing yourself, 124
185 piercing the corporate veil, 191
with friends and family, 146 planning, 28, 207
passion, 11, 29, 105, 117, 132 poor people, 79, 80
getting in trouble, 119 potential, 121
natural tendencies, 119 Poynter, Dan, 159
what you talk about, 121 preparation, 149
passions, 112 pre-tax dollars, 180, 181, 194
passive income, 158, 160, 162 procrastination, 118
past, 7, 8, 16, 39, 95, 145, 154 productivity, 15
patents, 183 promise, the Breaking Free, 224
path in life, 66, 101, 102, 105, Psychology of Achievement, The, 65,
106, 107, 108, 112, 114, 128, 77, 80
129, 133 public speaking, 162
Patton, General George S., 213 purpose, 13, 101, 102, 106
pay cuts, 17, 26, 81, 83, 96, 225 Purpose Driven Life, The, 128
paychecks, 19, 26, 80, 86, 92, 95, quitting, 28
144, 193, 199, 225 quitting your job, 19, 25, 28, 31,
paying yourself first, 86, 92 35, 49, 66, 72, 73, 75, 81, 95,
payment solutions, 196 96, 214
Paypal, 197 Quiznos, 38
payroll, 144, 145, 146 reacting to external events, 16,
peer group, 63, 64, 65, 70, 178, 31, 32, 102
209, 212 ready, fire, aim, 148
240 Breaking Free

real estate, 38, 80, 87, 157, 158 separate entity, 179
reasons, legitimate, 23, 25, 26, separating business and
31, 36, 166 personal finances, 179, 192,
records, 194 193
recruiting, 144 Seven Habits of Highly Effective
registered agent, 186 People, The, 103, 215
relationships, 10, 16, 47, 71, 86 shame, 8
responsibility, 32, 40, 63, 66, 96, significance, 13, 34, 106, 107,
128 108, 132
Rich Dad Poor Dad, 80 silence, 130
rich people, 79, 80 skill level, 103, 110
Richest Man in Babylon, The, 80 Skype, 141, 142
risk, 33, 137, 138, 165, 179, 222 slave, 95, 139
Robbins, Anthony, 207, 222 sleep, 10, 14, 15, 16, 71
role models, 120, 121 small steps, 32, 48, 74, 81
rush hour, 15, 141, 210, 211 social security number, 185
safe route, 64, 66, 213, 225 software, 163
salary, 194 sole proprietorship, 185, 191
saving, 80, 81, 86 speaking in public, 162
10% of your income, 86 speed reading, 15, 43, 44, 69
savings accounts, 87 spouses, 25, 63
scheduling, 222 Stallone, Sylvester, 39
S-corp, 177, 178 Stanley, Thomas, 94, 155
self doubt, 14, 36, 57, 74, 128, Starr, Linda, 131
148, 178, 211, 212, 213 starting a business
self talk, 208 defined, 179
self-employed starting out small, 164
defined, 154 startup, high tech, 139
Self-Publishing Manual, The, 159 Stephen Covey, 130
Index 241

stock options, 139 transition, smooth, 17, 81


Stone, W. Clement, 7 get a different job, 83
story, as an excuse, 105 keep current job, 81
stubborness, 214 travel, 140, 141, 180
students, 27, 91 trouble, getting in, 119
dropping out, 27 Trump, Donald, 24, 127
subconscious, 71, 72, 130, 131, Turbo Tax Business, 199
215, 218 tutoring, 38, 83, 84
Subway, 38 Twain, Mark, 63
success, 152, 153 unconfident, feeling, 62
success formula, 177 unincorporated, 181
successful people, 25, 43, 48, 58, unit costs, 150, 151
65, 215, 217 used cars, 94, 95
tanks, money and happiness, 12, user generated content, 156
17, 18 user interface design, 163, 198
tax advantages, 179, 180, 181, value, contributing. See
182 contributing value
taxes, 180, 185, 199 values, 10, 102, 109, 123, 126,
teams, 143, 144, 146 133, 215
technology, 217 variable costs, 151
thirty-thousand dollar venture capital, 139
millionaire, 94 victim mentality, 32, 105
time management, 11, 83, 214 video conferencing, 142
Toastmasters, 16, 162, 210 Virgin Group, 24, 119, 137
TPS reports, 144 Warren, Rick, 128
Tracy, Brian, 35, 39, 65, 70, 77, Washington Mutual, 192
80, 210, 215 Watson, Thomas J., 165
trademarks, 183 Way of the Superior Man, The, 101
traffic, 16
242 Breaking Free

wealth, 34, 35, 60, 65, 80, 87, 88, work, hard, 40
94, 133 worker bee, 9, 139
website templates, 195 working at home, 141, 142
websites, creating, 84, 157, 194 Worrall, Dan, 126
What to Say When you Talk to writing, 158, 215
Yourself, 211
Wikipedia, 42
work vs. fun, 106, 111
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Armstrong had always


dreamed of being his own boss, but
couldn’t bring himself to walk away from a
steady paycheck. After going through the
process he writes about in this book, he
finally quit his job, started his own
business, and achieved financial freedom
working for himself! He has never looked
back, and today seeks to help others do the
same as a writer, speaker, and consultant.
Prior to becoming self employed, Brian’s work experience
ranged from fortune 500 companies, to several small startups with less
than 15 employees. In 2001, he ventured out on his own with his first
company and was instantly hooked, starting two more in the next five
years. Brian currently resides in Houston, TX leading authority on how
to quit your job to work for yourself.
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