How Sweet It is!
I started my very first business at the age of nine – a candy store – and learned my first hugely important business lesson. Those of you who know any Indians named “Patel” will know that for millennia we have owned our own businesses. In fact, I can hear my Dad repeating (almost like a mantra), “Why the hell would you want to work your ass off to put money in someone else’s pocket, when you can put it in your own?”
Being kids ourselves, we knew exactly which items to stock – chips, candy, chocolate bars and popsicles (in a cooler). We got so busy, we had to hire our next-door neighbor to help out. WHY was our little candy store such a roaring success? Because we lived out in the country and the nearest competition was 20 minutes away by car. So kids rode their bikes, motorbikes and horses from miles around – all summer long. Sweet.
I didn’t start my next business until I was 19. Then I partnered up with a friend at University, Corey Anderson, and started a photography business. She was the photographer and I handled bookings, the accounts, production, styling and even some of the lighting. Due to our artsy connections, we ended up doing mostly portfolio shots for models and fashion designers. This led to a few layouts in our local newspaper, The Edmonton Journal. A year later when we graduated from University, The Edmonton Journal sponsored us to go shoot the international fashion shows in Tokyo, Japan.
Whilst in Japan, we continued to run our photography business but I also worked as a sub-editor at The Japan Times newspaper (where I also had my own fashion column), and as the Fashion Editor at Tokyo Time Out magazine. Those were wonderful days in 1989-91, there were very few foreigners in Japan, nothing was in English (not even subway signs), and we made an absolute fortune. Again, just like the candy store, because there was little to no competition. When you’re the only game in town you can make scads of money very easily. It was wonderful!
At the same time, I kept being pulled back to my childhood dream of being a singer/songwriter. I had started singing in church at the age of nine and as the years went by I learned to play the guitar, took voice lessons, sang in bands, concert choirs and toured in musicals.
What I realized after two years of raking in the cash and living the high life in Tokyo was that if I didn’t make the break now to pursue my childhood dream, I would probably never be willing again to step so far backwards into being a “poor, struggling artist”.
Girl With A Guitar
So I left Tokyo and moved to London, England. Not only did London produce great musical talent, often more original than North America, but I figured my accent would work in my favor and get me in the door a lot quicker – which it did. I had an eight-song demo of songs that I’d written and recorded and I had my heart set on getting a record deal that would allow me to write and sing my own music.
Well, after three years in London I’d had a total of four recording contract offers – but none of them would allow me to write and sing my own music! I turned all of them down; because I was not interested in being a pop star. If it wasn’t authentically me, I didn’t want it.
I realized that I would have been much further ahead if I had spent those 3 years setting up my own record label and releasing my own singles. This was unheard of at the time, but still, if I’d thought just a little more “outside the box” I think I might have come up with it.
Instead, I wasted my time waiting for other people to give me what I wanted. Rather than just going out and making it happen for myself. BIG lesson learned and you’ll see later how this benefited me.
I left England and moved to Vancouver, Canada where I set up a business called Protocol Teleprocessing Inc. that ran 1-900 ethnic telephone datelines for Chinese and Indians. The mainstream teledating market was already saturated, but no one was catering to ethnic markets.
For this business I partnered up with an old buddy I knew from Edmonton (we had worked for the same company selling diamonds) and as neither of us had any cash, we came up with a unique way to position the business. We approached ethnic newspapers and offered them a 50/50 revenue split off the 1-900 lines ($1.99/minute). All they had to do was run the dating ads in the back of their newspaper. Our close rate on this proposal was 100%. Because it was such a no-brainer, win-win proposition!
I then bought my partner out and expanded to include internet dating (we were one of the very first dating sites on the web). A software developer in New York read about my telecommunications company in a magazine article, made me an offer, and bought me out in 1998. To be honest, I was bored with the dating business and ready to move on to something new.
I measure success in a holistic manner:
- How’s your health? (Good Health Is Real Wealth is the title of one of my subscription newsletters)
- Do you have meaningful, intimate relationships with your spouse and kids?
- Are you actually parenting, nurturing and teaching your own children, or have you outsourced that?
- Do you do things on a regular basis that nurture your soul and stoke your passions?
- Are you well-travelled and able to move fluidly in different cultures?
- How many languages do you speak?
- Are you helping the earth, or harming it?
- Do you have lots of fun and a good measure of adventure in your life?
- Do you have enough money to live the life you want to live?
- Do you have enough money to travel, pay for your hobbies and provide for your kids’ needs?
- Are you giving back or just taking? Are you actively involved in making the world a better place?
That is the kind of success that is meaningful to me. I know a lot of business gurus say, “The purpose of a business is to make money.” But I disagree. My motto would be more along the lines of: Figure out how to make money from something you enjoy, or that has meaning and a higher purpose to you.
The Wounded Healer
In 1999, I started Caramal Publishing Inc. to publish the book I’d written about healing myself from a supposedly incurable disease. Remember the lesson I’d learned from the music biz? This time, I didn’t wait for someone to give me the book deal I wanted, I didn’t even send the manuscript out, I just published it myself.
Over time, that one book turned into 23 books, CDs, and DVDs and over 300 health products. Everything grew organically and came out of questions or requests from my readers, or things I had discovered (or needed) and wanted to share. Because when you make money doing what invigorates you, there is no end to it, and it’s all GOOD!
My 40,000 readers kept asking me the same question: How do I get your life? So that brings us here. I created Listen To Your Freedom to give people the exact same tools and process I used to create my own businesses. So I could teach them how to:
LIVE free. Do what you LOVE every day. And make MONEY.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never run a business in your life, or whether you already have a business or blog – but it’s not really going anywhere. There’s a clear process to having a successful, Internet-based business and I will take you through each piece. Start by getting a feel for my stuff, how I roll, and whether we’re a good fit by signing up for my free mini-course below: