$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?