A Practical Guide to Working for Yourself

by Tammy Strobel
1 | Smalltopia

for Logan: my life partner, best friend, and support system.

2 | Smalltopia

Table of Contents Introduction! What It’s All About! My Background! The Not-So-Small Disclaimer! Smalltopia Philosophy! What I’ve Learned Since I Left My Day Job! How to Turn Your Dreams into Reality! How To Stop Doing Stupid Work! Turn Off the Internet and Focus! Quiet Your Mind and Do Work that Matters! “No” Isn’t a Dirty Word! Avoid Becoming a Workaholic! Kick the Cubicle Habit By Simplifying Your Finances! Smalltopia Essentials! What Your Small Business Needs! 3 | Smalltopia 6 9 11 13 14 16 24 30 33 37 40 43 48 53 54 .

000 Changed My Life by Jessica Reeder! Creating a Small Work Life by Chris O'Byrne! 4 | Smalltopia 56 58 60 63 66 69 74 76 77 78 80 82 84 85 89 95 100 .The Business Plan?! How to Find Your People! Why You Need a Blog! How to Cultivate Ideas! The Benefits of Testing! Hunting and Gathering: How to Diversify Your Moolah! The Money Game! Who’s on Your Inspiration Council?! Invest in Yourself! NO Spam Marketing! Collaborate with Queens + Kings! Smart Sourcing! Smalltopia Case Studies! 6 Lessons for New Entrepreneurs by Leo Babauta! How to Improve Your Utopia Day-by-Day by Chris Guillebeau! $5.

Stop Consuming and Start Living by Everett Bogue! This Office Has No Walls by Russ Roca and Laura Crawford! How To Automate Your Business Growth Using A Free E-mail Course by Karol Gajda! The Accidental Entrepreneur by Chloe Adeline! Trying Smalltopia on for Size by Victoria Vargas! Small Steps Lead the Way by Karen Yaeger! the story of stonesoup | minimalist home cooking by Jules Clancy! Why Being Unemployed Is the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me by Heather Levin! How much are you worth? by Matt Cheuvront! Say "Yes." and 6 Other Ideas for a Thriving Smalltopia by Tyler Tervooren! Smalltopia Resources! About the Author! Acknowledgements! 103 106 110 112 117 124 129 133 138 144 151 155 156 5 | Smalltopia .

Third. Try not to let the emotion hold you back from new opportunities. Second. just do it. I kept thinking: What do I know about running a small business? And how can I possibly compete against some of my favorite business writers? People like Pam Slim. Chris Guillebeau. Danielle LaPorte and Karol Gajda? And then I thought: What would I tell one of my clients or blog readers? My standard response goes something like this: First. fear is an emotion that’s always present. this isn’t about competition. Everett Bogue. Besides 6 | Smalltopia .Introduction I have a secret to share with you: I was absolutely petrified to write this ebook. Everyone has a valuable perspective to share with the world. Writing a book is about helping other people do what they love.

creative energy and resources to start working for yourself.what is the absolutely worst thing that could happen? And finally. the world is a magical place. giving our lives away for money and going after gold stars in school. depressed and unhappy because they buy their identity through consumerism. messages that tell us we need a big house. Folks have bought into messages promoted by advertisers. We’re used to watching the clock. People feel dissatisfied. capitalism or the nature of work. You just have to open your eyes long enough to see it. 7 | Smalltopia . By downsizing your life and spending habits you’ll have the freedom. time. a nice car and a traditional job to find meaning and purpose in life. We’ve become so good at censoring ourselves we don’t know who we are anymore. Big institutions have a vested interest in keeping us stuck and scared. And we’re even less likely to ask hard questions about consumer culture. So how do we get so stuck? For most of our adult lives we’re supposed to get to work on time. follow the rules laid out during our education and generally be good boys and girls.

You are capable of following your dreams. minimalist lifestyle gave me the freedom and self confidence to leave my day job and start my own business in February 2010. Since then I’ve received hundreds of e-mails from blog readers asking how I was able to build a profitable business around my blog.For example. Remember: You can create your own reality. living a simple. By starting a small business you can build your own utopia. This book is my response to those e-mails and a call to action. 8 | Smalltopia .

books and websites. but the material has been revised and updated. where and when we do work. In addition. Dedicated blog readers may notice that I’ve integrated some of my older articles into this book. the book contains embedded links to informative articles. I’ve structured this book to be a series of small guides that will help you start a small business. tools and strategies that will help you create personal freedom through a very small business. this book is about the fundamentals of getting a small business off the ground and rethinking the nature of how. This book is divided into three sections: 9 | Smalltopia . Not all of the ideas are new. More specifically. filled with rewarding challenges. By producing your own stellar work environment. This book will benefit anyone who is interested in leaving a traditional 9-5 job. It’s full of tips. It’s the perfect balance between freedom and hard work. you have the freedom to choose how to spend and prioritize your time.What It’s All About Working for yourself is similar to creating your own utopia.

• Smalltopia Essentials: This section covers essentials. marketing. including business planning. building community and living small. It’s my hope that this guide will inspire you to start your own small business and pursue a lifestyle that brings you satisfaction and happiness. 10 | Smalltopia . income diversification and a variety of other topics. • Smalltopia Case Studies: This section contains business tips.• Smalltopia Philosophy: This section focuses on doing work that matters. tools and stories from small business owners and from people who are preparing to escape their cubicle. while thinking big.

I don’t think you can effectively help others. I've learned a lot about what it takes to sustain a vibrant. 11 | Smalltopia . I directed outreach programs. I spent a number of years in the investment management industry and working in the movement to end violence against women. I learned that we are all connected through business. This is especially true for folks who work in social services where burnout is common.” With that in mind. provided counseling services to victims of violence and learned how to run a nonprofit. fully inclusive movement for change. You only get one body and mind. Over the last decade. I knew it was time to make a serious career change. Your health is a fundamental priority even if it means asking for a reduced work schedule or leaving a “good job. More importantly. If you don’t take care of both. During the last decade of my career. In “Minimalist Health.” I talked about the importance of taking care of your physical and emotional health.My Background My background gives me a unique perspective on running a small business.

Starting a small business is something I’ve always wanted to do. 12 | Smalltopia . I never had the confidence to actually do it. The time we have on this planet is too precious to be wasted. Life is too short to be stuck in a career you hate or leaves you feeling “burnt out.” I truly believe anything is possible. I was living a life society said was “good” but I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy. especially if you build relationships and start getting involved with your community. Thanks to the encouragement of mentors. However. I finally stopped talking about my dreams and made them a reality.

Before you make any big decisions talk to your friends. 13 | Smalltopia . family members and mentors.The Not-So-Small Disclaimer This book is for educational purposes and I am not responsible for any losses you might incur.

Think big. 3. Build a strong community by helping people improve their lives. Focus and don’t engage in stupid work.Smalltopia Philosophy The Smalltopia philosophy is simple and includes three points: 1. 14 | Smalltopia . Live small. Do something. 2.

Tribes 15 | Smalltopia .“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is.” ~Seth Godin. maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.

Don’t get caught sheepwalking 16 | Smalltopia . A life that didn’t require sitting under florescent lights or working traditional hours. I knew that my idealistic utopian life could be built by starting my own tiny business. I wanted to set-up a life where I had more freedom. potential funding cuts and the constant talk of “re-structuring. At the end of January.What I’ve Learned Since I Left My Day Job As we’ve learned from the economic downturn the world is always changing. Change is scary. We should embrace change by acknowledging its presence and preparing for its effects. However. risky and part of every day life. I’m grateful for the time I spent at various day jobs. Some of my co-workers discounted my idealism and told me to just accept the nature of a traditional job. I forced change upon myself and decided to leave my stable. I’ve never felt “safe” in a traditional job because of changing office politics.” So I knew I had to take a risk and try something new. however. “good” job.

be careful. Don’t listen to the lizard brain. Usually.The author Seth Godin talks about the concept of sheepwalking in Tribes. writing and talking with mentors can help you figure out where your fear is coming from. Seth Godin describes the lizard brain as “the resistance.” I don’t want to be caught sheepwalking or stay at a day job just because the salary and benefits are good. go for a walk or write down the reasons you might be feeling anxious.” “The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off. Let’s review a few tips to help you fight fear and focus on producing work that matters: 1. compromise. fear has no basis in reality. Do you? It’s so easy to get caught up in fear. When you start freaking out. Activities like walking. go slow. The resistance is writer's block and putting jitters and every project that ever 17 | Smalltopia . He defines “sheepwalking as the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line.

Give more than you receive. the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive.” Your job is to acknowledge this voice and then push past it to continue doing work that matters. as we get closer to an insight. the more you’ll receive. How can you help others in your niche? Can you mentor a colleague or promote a blogger’s work? The more you give.shipped late because people couldn't stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door. Ignore the trolls. Trolls are people filled with negative energy and do things like leave nasty comments on blog posts or send mean e-mails. By contributing to a community you can grow your niche together and foster greater resilience in a changing market. 3. as we get closer to the truth of what we really want. The lizard is a physical part of your brain. That's because the lizard hates change and achievement and risk. 2. The resistance grows in strength as we get closer to shipping. 18 | Smalltopia .

I do a majority of my writing early in the mornings because that’s when the words flow onto paper. even if it’s bad. fans and community. Sticking to a schedule can be really helpful. Lack of sleep impacts productivity. Be open to that feedback. Figure out what times in the day you’re most productive and start getting stuff done. 6. 19 | Smalltopia . Be open to feedback. Do yourself and your family a favor and go to bed early. Constructive criticism is one way you can improve your art. Think about how you can help your clients. Stick to a schedule. 4. 5. Connect with your tribe on social networks and take timeout to meet your fans and colleagues in person.Don’t worry about these folks. Get enough sleep. relationships and your sense of self worth. For example. 7. Network and then network more.

What kind of entity is your little business? A sole proprietorship or a corporation? Do you have a business account for expenditures? Pay attention to the details so they can help inform your big decisions. 11. Treat your small business. For example. what steps could you take to make your life better? 3. If you spend hours every day on Twitter or Facebook. Develop your idea and think about its effects. What are you waiting for? What is holding you back from pursing your ideal career? 9. like a business. How can your community help you. Content is king. Social networking is a lot of fun. if the worst-case-scenario happened? 5.8. Everything is political and I don’t think you should be afraid to make your political viewpoints known or donate a portion 20 | Smalltopia . What is the worst thing that could happen if you left your day job? 2. how is your blog post useful? What can you teach your readers? Micro-action Take a break from reading and answer the following questions: 1. how is that impacting your art? 10. What would you do today if you were fired from your day job? Are you prepared emotionally and financially? 4. but it’s not work. Work is not spending hours on Twitter and Facebook. Politicizing your work isn’t a bad thing. If the worst case scenario actually occurred.

So listen to them! Even if they suggest taking on a task you’re not sure about. The professional’s lack of control over the political content of his or her creative work is the hidden root of much career dissatisfaction … Professionals are licensed to think on the job. Find a mentor and listen to their advice. As Jeff Schmidt points out: “Professionals control the technical means but not the social goals of their creative work. For instance.of your profits to an organization you believe in. This is an amazing example of how you can use the Internet for good. do it! 13. Use your extra time to volunteer and give back to your community. check out Chris Guillebeau’s Clean Water for Ethiopia project. but they are obedient thinkers. Give more than you get.” 12. 21 | Smalltopia . By restructuring your work life you’ll have the time to volunteer in your community or start your own revolution. encouragement and advice. Mentors are invaluable. They are in your life to offer you support.

(Make sure you specify this in a contract. focus. I start billing by the hour. So if a project takes longer than expected.14. when I work on projects for clients I set a timer and focus solely on that project. in one week might be shocking. Make a list of the number of times you say “yes” during the week. Time is a valuable commodity. Learn to say no. Continue to expand your knowledge base. Focusing on one task at a time has been my mantra for the last few months. Learn to get more from less. If you suffer from the need-to-please disease the number of times you say yes. Try new things and challenge yourself. When working on a project either for personal or professional gain. 22 | Smalltopia . For instance. 17. Focus on one task at a time.) 16. Learning is a lifelong process. Learning news skills will give you the knowledge base to get your little business off the ground. 15.

but I’m sure you get the point.Think about what you really need to start and maintain your little business. Going small is an elegant solution to many complex problems. You can get by with far less than you think and still be extremely successful. 23 | Smalltopia . Do you really need a fancy office? Or can you work from home? Do you need business cards. Running a business doesn’t require a lot of excess stuff or a big office. fancy letterhead. or brochures? Do you truly need to hire a professional web designer or can you create a simple website yourself? I could go on.

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