Meet Barbara Winter


Barbara J Winter is a pioneering self-employment advocate, writer and teacher who has spent the last twenty-five years pondering the question, “Why aren’t we all self-employed?” Helping others discover the Joyfully Jobless life is her favorite occupation. To readers of Read more

Benvenuto!


Buon viaggio….good journey. How nice to have you along. This blog has been a long time brewing. Hardly a day passes when I don’t come across a fascinating new business idea, inspiring story or useful resource and want to pass Read more

8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting a Business

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bjwun-job-fairIt’s National Boss’s Day, a day that I celebrate heartily since I have the perfect boss. It took her awhile to figure things out, of course, but lifelong learning is one of the gifts of self-employment.

When I started my first business, I didn’t know another self-employed person who was creating something unique. There was no internet and not many books that were written for someone wanting to start a one-person operation. It was all trial and error…lots of error.

Today there are abundant resources, but some of the most important things I learned still aren’t being acknowledged. Here are eight things I wish I had known sooner.

° The business you start out with is not the business you end up with. By its’ very nature, business is an evolutionary process. As you change and grow—and as the marketplace changes and grows—you’ll make adjustments.

The good news is that you can get started wherever and whenever you want without having to know every detail. Be willing for your business to deliver pleasant surprises and lessons.

° Refuse to take advice from uninformed sources. It’s easy when you’re filled with self-doubt to listen to dream bashers. Don’t do it. And don’t solicit advice from those who have failed.

It’s amazing to me how often I talk to people who have abandoned a great idea because someone who knew nothing about their business (and probably wasn’t even an entrepreneur themselves) talked them out of it.

As the Persian poet Rumi wisely advised, “When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from someone who has never left home.”

° Know the difference between an expense and an investment. Many new self-bossers see any outlay of money as an expense. While your business will have costs associated with running it, spending money now to produce a greater good in the future is an investment.

Your money needs to go to both. Some of the biggest return on investment comes when you invest in yourself.

° What you don’t know can be learned. Learn how to research your ideas and connect with informed sources. If you operate on the assumption that you can acquire the information and skills you need at every stage of development, you’ll always have the pleasure of being a voluntary student.

Equally important is determining which parts of doing business make your heart sing and which make your heart sink. Once you know that, you can farm out the parts you’re not good at. Know what you want to know and know what you don’t care about knowing.

° Personal growth is a daily activity. Paul Hawken says, “Being in business is not about making money. It’s a way to become who you are.” I became an entrepreneur because I was curious about what I could become. Self-employment continues to be my best teacher.

In order for your enterprise to reach its’ fullest potential, you have to reach yours. An occasional seminar or personal growth book or CD isn’t going to have the impact that daily work does, even though those tools are also important.

° Don’t confuse a project with a dream. Your dreams are your ultimate destination. A project is a step along the way. Too many people use a project failure as an excuse to abandon their dreams.

Know the difference and don’t make that mistake.

° Patience is your best friend. There’s a fine line between being patient and being a procrastinator. It seems to me that what many people call failure is simply running out of patience, giving up before their idea had a chance to blossom.

Remind yourself that you can’t possibly know how long it will take to accomplish something you’ve never done before. Be willing to be impatiently patient.

° Know the difference between taking a risk and taking a calculated risk. Timid people who are not self-bossers think that you’re a wild person jeopardizing your family and your finances. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Studies have shown that successful entrepreneurs take risks, but they’re cautious, calculated ones based on research and intuition. Do your homework. Take a step.

Of course, part of the appeal and adventure of being joyfully jobless is not always knowing exactly how things will turn out. Be willing to let things turn out better than you imagined.

Patiently Impatient

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This past weekend I did my first seminar series of 2016. In the nearly thirty years that I’ve been a gypsy teacher, this is a startling contrast to my previous years when I was teaching every month.

This unusual experience began with the evil virus I contracted in March. Not only did I have to cancel several events, I was unwilling to book future classes not knowing when or if I would recover.

As I headed to Sacramento I was filled with trepidation. Would I remember how to do this? Had I gotten rusty?

Fortunately, my classes had delightful participants and I […] Continue Reading…

The Gift of Delay

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After spending ten days with my siblings in Lucca, Italy, I planned to take the train back to Venice, have a bonus afternoon in my favorite city, then fly home the next day.

That plan began to unravel when I went to buy my ticket and discovered a 24-hour train strike was scheduled for exactly the time I wanted to travel. After making numerous telephone calls to find an alternative option, I was assured that some trains would still be running.

What I wasn’t told was that I’d be making a 5 hour sidetrip to Bologna. That little surprise didn’t arrive until […] Continue Reading…

5 Ways to Find Reliable Information

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If you plan to package information, publish a customer newsletter or establish yourself as an expert by writing and/or speaking, you’ll find yourself collecting information all of the time. Once you begin doing so, it’s easy to depend on your regular sources and forget about the other options you have for finding useful material.

To make your information gathering more effective, you’ll want to tap into as many sources as possible (without making yourself dizzy).

Before you do, however, set up a system for handling the material that you collect. A series of folders or files labeled with broad categories is likely to be […] Continue Reading…

Time for a Creative Excursion?

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Julia Cameron calls them Artist Dates. Sarah Ban Breathnach calls them Creative Excursions. Whatever you call them, they’re worth making a regular event in your life.

“The Artist Date need not be overtly artistic,” says Cameron, “think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. Since art is about the play of ideas, they feed our creative work by replenishing our inner well of images and inspiration.”

The purpose of such solo events is to take time away regularly to visit a new place, gather ideas, or just feed your soul. Although it’s […] Continue Reading…

6 Ways to Move Closer to Self-employed Success

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Trying to build a business without entrepreneurial thinking is like trying to build a house with a toothbrush. An employee mindset is not a useful tool for such an important project.

Fortunately, learning to think like a successful self-bosser is something we can teach ourselves. Here are some proven ways of expanding entrepreneurial consciousness.

° Make persistence your personal trademark. We’ve all heard the stories of multiple experiments conducted by Thomas Edison before he figured out how to make a light bulb. Edison’s not the only one, of course, to succeed by not giving up.

During the remarkable renaissance of Tina Turner a […] Continue Reading…

9 Ways to Recharge Your Batteries

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Writers talk about (and agonize over) a condition they call writer’s block. When this occurs even experienced authors report feeling stuck. It’s not just limited to writers, of course. Any creative endeavor can get bogged down when the creator feels blocked.

Psychologists suggest that we can shorten our down time by doing something unrelated to the project that has us stymied. In other words, we can solve the problem by walking away from the problem…for a while.

With that in mind, I polled several of my creative friends and asked them, “What do you do when you need fresh inspiration?” Every […] Continue Reading…

Choose an Inspiring Motto

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They were having a discussion about political slogans this morning on NPR. Apparently, presidential candidates have been using them for decades. Not all of them were effective nor memorable.

Whether we realize it or not, most of us have a collection of slogans that are stored in our brains. Like its cousin the mantra, a slogan regularly resurfaces and repeats itself.

Many of these have been with us since childhood and were more of a warning than a guide to living a great life. Money doesn’t grow on trees. If you can’t do it perfectly, don’t bother doing it.

I’m guessing you […] Continue Reading…

Would Winning the Lottery Make a Difference?

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On the morning of August 25, 1997, the big story on the morning news shows was the Powerball lottery drawing happening that evening. For the first time ever, a lottery jackpot had reached the $300,000,000 mark. Lines were forming outside convenience stores, people were planning a lavish future. A mathematician assured the Today Show interviewer that someone would absolutely win based on the finite combination of numbers..

Although I’m not a lottery player most of the time, I decided that if I didn’t buy a ticket or two I’d miss the excitement when the drawing rolled around that evening. I […] Continue Reading…

A Holiday Suggestion

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Facebook reminded me of this post from three years ago. I think it is equally valid this year.

I’m pretty sure I broke out in a big grin this morning when novelist Jonathan Odell posted a link on Facebook to an interview with him that appeared in today’s Huffington Post.

Of course, I’m always delighted when someone I know is bringing their dreams to life, but this particular dream is one I first encountered when it was a tiny gleam in Jon’s eye.

I’m not certain that I was the first person he’d shared this with, but years ago he told me […] Continue Reading…

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