$100 Startup

I’ve had a keen mind for business for as long as I can remember – when I was a little girl, I used to ask myself, “how can I make this more fun?” – a question that got me and my inquisitive mind in trouble quite a bit. I think I spent more time in the time out corner holding both earlobes than in my own room. [Sidenote – Whenever my brother or I got in deep doodoo, we used to have to hold our ear lobes (can’t let go!) and face the corner…..is that a Chinese thing?] Toys would never last too long for me, I was always disassembling, modifying, beautifying.

When I got my first real job in college, the question morphed into, “how can I make this easier?” (i.e. less work) which led to learning a new word, “streamlining.” It became a game to me – I challenged myself to find ways to simplify tasks at work and kept track of money saved and minutes shaved.

Promotions came fast, money came easy and success as an employee was a piece of cake.

I remember during my Tony Robbins days, one of the biggest lessons I learned during the seminars was, “Ask a better question, get a better answer.” It’s so true – I kept asking myself the right questions.

Now, just to be fair, I don’t always ask myself smart questions: “I wonder how much of my arm a gator could chomp off in one bite?”

Asking a better question changes your focus – your brain’s gears start churning, maybe your eyes will start wandering and looking off in far distance as you search for an answer. [when I’m deep in thought, I tend to look up and to my left….you?]

Ever heard of WWJD? What would Jesus Do?

Well, I have a list of people that I admire – the list is a wild party – with celebrities (Oprah), crazy business greats (Richard Branson), innovators (Steve Jobs and Guy Kawasaki), family (Dad and brother), Jackie Chan, Edward Cullen, Cyndi Lauper, my 10th grade math teacher, Ms. K (a woman I met on the plane 14 years ago), my husband and the boys, a woman I used to work for but I really despised but damn she was a marketing genius, and a slew of other strange characters in my life.

So anytime that I needed to solve out a major problem, brainstorm a business idea or just plain ol’ bored….I hold a party in my head. With fabulous cocktails and finger foods catered by Wolfgang Puck and allllll these people on my imaginary “Board of Advisors” show up. It’s invite-only. Sometimes we’re on the beach, sometimes we’re in our PJs sitting by the fire (please tell me I’m not the only one who imagines Anderson Cooper in pink striped PJs!) and I go around the room, imagining what each person would given the unique situation.

WWJBD? What would James Bond Do?

It’s the best way to brainstorm hands-down (and the cheapest too).

Loooong story to get to my point – I started the Steamy Kitchen business with a $200 investment: domain name, free WordPress blog theme, cheapy camera. In fact, the bulk of the investment went towards the making of the business plan: $4 posterboard and $60 worth of magazines. Many of you who have seen me speak know about how I created a “dream board” to use as my business plan (that story deserves its own post).

In creating Steamy Kitchen, I asked myself and my Board of Advisors, “How can I transform this precious personal food blog into a thriving site that supports our family?”

If you think I’m an anomoly, you need to pick up a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s book, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love and create a new future.

Who is Chris? A friend and on my imaginary “Board of Advisors.” (WWCGD? What would Chris Guillebeau do?) He’s the author of The Art of Nonconformity – download his 2 free manifestos (bottom right hand side on his blog) and read them….now!

Chris is on the right and that’s the one and only Jonathan Fields on the left.

Chris’s new book, The $100 Startup, profiles 50 people who have started their business with very little investment and have built it to earn at least $50,000 a year to millions a year. And yeah, I’m in it (wheeeeeeee!)

What I love about Chris is that he gets me (and I get him.) We’re both nonconformists (or as my kids call us “weirdos”), carving out our lives the way we want, not what’s expected or based on others’ standards of normal. There’s always a better question to ask, another way to solve a problem, a more creative path to living.

Who would be on your Board of Advisors?

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Comments 35

  1. Debbie Chioffe

    I am still thinking about my “Board of Advisors”…yet, I do want to mention that I was so glad to have been prompted to click on the link to this article from my Facebook news feed! This was a facinating article to read and just what I needed at this time. I need a jump start towards progress, as I am in the process of changing my life for the better. Long story, no time. Your article was so personable and well written, and by including the info about the “$100 Start-UP” book I feel that it gave me motivation that I was looking for! Thank-you! I need to see if my local Library carries this book and I am off to re-invent my life.

  2. At Home with Kim Vallee

    I believe that entrepreneurs need to be non-conformists since that quality enables us to think outside the box. Even if that means more headaches, I could not go back to be an employee; my life feels fuller and more exciting the way it is now. Thanks for sharing your insights, Jaden.

  3. Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

    What an inspirational post! I have to say that for the longest time I questioned what I was doing, partially because people seem to think I’m joking or look at me funny whenever I talk about blogging as a career. I’ve found that I’m much happier building my food blog rather than working some job I hate, climbing up the corporate ladder. Thanks for the great post, Jaden!

  4. Faleen

    Well as to my board of advisors, there are two men so far. One is living and the other deceased. I would love to have Steve Jobs and Maurice Tempelsman.

  5. megan

    sounds wonderful…. as I am reaching a crossroads and either having to commit to building a better business or moving on…. I will looking for this book!

  6. Connie

    How cool is that to be featured in someone’s book on how to do something well? That’s just awesome! I think the whole “hold your earlobe” thing is a Chinese thing because I got the same treatment while all my friends got disciplined with threats of the chanclas or their toys taken away….

  7. Kim Bee

    Congrats on making the list Jaden. I have to say you’d be on my Board of Advisors. You changed my whole way of thinking at Food Blog Forum. I am determined to make my dreams come true and every time I hit a wall I think WWJD. You inspire me and so many others.

    On a side note I was hoping to connect with you again at Blogher Food but I’ve had to shelve that trip in lieu of saving to drive mine son off to do his PHD this fall. We’ve decided to drive from Ontario to Calgary so he’ll have all his stuff. So Blogher Food will have to wait till next year. After you chatted with the family in Orlando and you walked away he asked me “so that’s your girl crush, nice”. Yup, gotta love my kids. xx

  8. Chris

    Actually you are already on mine. You’re in good company with Chris Lilly, Alton Brown, my father in law, Jack Welch, and Nigella Lawson.

  9. Judit @ Corina @WineDineDaily

    Congratulations Jaden for you great accomplishements! You are truly an inspiration and we admire your success. By the way in Hungary and Germany you had to cross your arms behind your back when you endet up in the time out corner.
    So today we raise our glass to you!
    J & C

  10. Rachelle

    That’s awesome! I love the idea of an imaginary board of advisors. I just usually have a chat with “the universe.”

    Vision boards definitely work! I have a vision board from 10 years ago with the words “Mount Dora” and pics of b&b’s. 😉

    Last year’s vision board had pics from around the world with a magazine headlines that said, “affordable luxury” and “happiness” … and I’ve since been on safari in South Africa, getting ready to head to Costa Rica and Spain this month … and working on a project for this fall that would include a round-the-world trip in a private jet.

    I’d say $4 poster board and $60 in magazines is money well spent and a wise investment. 😉

  11. Lynn

    Wonderful! I love your outlook on life and how you strive to be your very best, while always keeping your priorities straight. Congratulations!

  12. Aggie

    I absolutely love this post. DON’T laugh, but I’ve said to a certain someone (Julie), WWJD? (What would Jaden do?)…so I guess that makes you on my Board. 🙂

    Thanks for always inspiring and motivating.

  13. Monique

    Awesome read! I discovered your blog because I started reading $100 Startup today. You’re such an inspiration because I’m a vegan blogger who wants to enjoy freedom in my life; yet also add value to others.
    Thanks so much for contributing your story to the book. 🙂

  14. katie

    What an inspiring write up! My husband just started his own business and of course I’d love to support us on my blogging as well— definitely looks like it will be a great read and make us start asking better questions.

  15. Janet

    Congrats on being in his book! And congrats on having a thriving business. I’m going to check out his book now.

  16. Ellen

    i followed you then and i am still following you-i enjoy your blog and now with all your great products-good luck to you!

  17. Julianna Yu

    Hi Jaden! Long time follower here. I loved this post! I look up and to my left too. lol! I really liked your Board of Advisors meeting confession too. Ooh I like Chris too – Definitely got to check out that book. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  18. Pamela

    Hi Jaden, Thank you so much for your input in the “$100 Start Up”. I am on my second read and now taking notes and forming my plan of escape. I knew this must be possible. Now I know this can be a reality in my life. I will be visiting your blog a lot going forward. I will be able to leave a website URL next time I comment.

  19. Susan

    Looking forward to this book. Great reminder that a business plan in any form is always a great way to begin with confidence and a plan to succeed.

  20. Lez

    just order the book. I’m sure it will be an inspirational read. I currently own my own business and is starting a new ecommerce business which was inspired by a very scary moment in my life…my wife being diagnosed with cancer.

  21. Tommie

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of
    your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got
    to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people
    could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for
    only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could
    space it out better?

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