Archives For Entrepreneur

Natalie Sisson

Today I share with you an interview I did with Natalie Sisson, who is on of my favorite entrepreneurs online.

I’ve been following her almost as long as I’ve had this blog. She has been awesome enough to interview me on her podcast about developing iPhone apps and asked me to contribute to her project, $100 Change.

Natalie helps women (and some men) start from scratch and build a business online that gives them more freedom in their lives. Today her and her partner Natalie McNeil have opened their flagship course, WE Mastermind, for a limited time.

But first I wanted to asked her questions that I get from readers a lot because she is the expert at running an online business.

I follow you online and you definitely do live out of your suitcase traveling the world. Where are you doing this interview from and where have you been in 2013?

I’m currently in the beautiful and eclectic city of Berlin. Germany. I’m going to be here for around 6 more weeks before further travel for Ultimate Frisbee tournaments in Europe, and onto North America. The first 4.5 months of this year I was in South East Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Philippines) and South Korea!

Can you tell us a bit about how you got to this point? I know for many people having an online business is not something they imagined doing at first, but now they wouldn’t want to do anything else. 

I’d love to say it was a straight line to online entrepreneurship but in reality, like most success stories, it was two or more years in the making. I had a pretty successful career in the corporate world, rising up through the ranks in various brand management, marketing and business development roles for almost 8 years.

But the 9-5 rat race I experienced in London in 2008 pushed me over the edge. So much so that I quit forever and went to Vancouver, Canada with the dream of starting my own business.

Instead I found the next best thing, my business partner who I ended up co-founding a technology company with. That was a wild rollercoaster ride into the world of entrepreneurship – especially in the fast faced tech startup scene and I learned a ton. It was during that time I started my blog, mainly to share my learnings with others in the hope it would help them, and to interview successful female founders (of which there were – and still are – few of in the tech scene).

That blog is now the Suitcase Entrepreneur and it’s changed a lot since then as I’ve found my unique special proposition (USP) and developed my own voice and brand. It’s coming up 3 years this month that I’ve had my business and I love it more everyday.

You had a successful career in the corporate world. What made you shift to wanting to work online?

For me it was never being able to `own’ the outcome. I mean in all of my roles I had a relatively large amount of autonomy which was great. But often I got roadblocked by senior management when I was wanting to launch a new initiative or project. Nothing frustrated me more, especially as that’s what they had hired me to do. I also tired quickly of office politics, bureaucracy and working within pointless constraints. I wanted the freedom to do my own thing at my own pace.

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“If you want to have more, you have to become more. Success is not something your pursue. What you pursue will elude you; it will elude you; it can be like trying to chase butterflies. Success is something you attract by the person you become. For things to improve, you have to improve. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to change, you have to change. When you change, everything changes for you.”

– Jim Rohn

(This is post is an excerpt from my upcoming 30 day course coming out next week.)

When most people set a new goal they think, “Ok what do I need to do to get it?” They find the steps and just follow them. It’s natural to think that and it’s not a bad question. But it’s not the first question we should ask.

The question we should ask ourselves is “Who do I need to become?”

If you’ve never realized this, then this post will change how you achieve success.

When I learned this, I figured I would try it this way. I needed to stop doing it the way I had done it before, which was just finding out what I needed to do. My past efforts at change in all areas of my life all failed since college. On the outside, life may have seemed great, but on the inside I felt hollow.

I did what most people do, which was try and change my external world. If I did that, I figured I would change as a person on the inside.

Well…that strategy never worked out for me. This time I needed to take a different approach.

It turned out Jim Rohn’s words were the important to my current personal development success.

Before my goal was to make money to become financially independent. If I could do that, life would be great. I thought all my self-confidence, unhappiness, and motivation problems would go away.

I didn’t find success though for a long time. The reason I didn’t was because of ME. I didn’t become the type of person that would achieve the goal I wanted. I just tried to do step 1, step 2, step 3, etc.

I thought knowing how to do it was enough, but it wasn’t.

If you’ve been failing at changing your life and achieving your biggest goals in life, you need a new approach.

It’s all about us

No matter what it is we want to change, we’ll never achieve lasting change until WE change. Once WE improve, everything else around us will improve. When it comes to achieving our goals, remember it is not our goals that need to be worked on; it is US.

It is important to understand that we don’t get in life what we want; we get in life what we are. We will only achieve the level of success in our life that equals our level of self-worth.

Re-read these last two sentences so you really understand it.

But it’s natural tendency to look at the results and figure out why we didn’t get what we wanted, while giving little attention to the cause.

This time when I finally decided I was tired of how my life was, I looked to change myself from the inside out first. It wasn’t about writing down a list of goals (again), putting my head down, and focus on achieving it. I had to change first. I didn’t like the type of person I had become. I was pessimistic, didn’t take responsibility for my life, hated life, jealous, and frustrated cause I felt stuck.

My level of self-worth sucked. Yes I wanted to reach these big goals I had. Yes I wanted to change my life. But I didn’t truly believe I could achieve it. I still felt success was hopeless.

I needed to change myself FIRST, so I could have success. Not the other way around.

Let me give you an example of how I used to approach my goals. I’ve tried to make money online for so long. I’ve always loved how I could do work from anywhere. I spent a lot of time online so it interested me. I’ve joined courses that taught me how to do it. For example, I tried to set up niche websites and make money from Google ads. I followed the steps, worked hard to set it up, tweaked it, and waited to see what kind of results I would get. I didn’t get much. I quit that and move to the next get rich quick opportunity.

I had the steps I need to take to make money. The reason I never found success was because I didn’t change. I didn’t have the attributes that a successful online entrepreneur would possess.

With my mindset, I also believe I didn’t attract the type of opportunities that were right for me either. My mindset was get rich quick with as little work as possible. Guess what? That’s what I attracted because that’s what I was looking for.

I was the same old Benny trying to make money online with every new opportunity I came across.

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The Statue of Liberty

Seeing her gave all immigrants optimism for their new life

Do you want to know the secret trait of every entrepreneur? I know you do.

I did too and since I read about it in an article, I realized it’s gotten me to this point right now and it’s going to take me wherever I want to go.

Okay so you’re ready? Here it is.

One of the qualities that is most helpful in an aspiring entrepreneur is optimism. Without it you would be foolish to attempt risk. Consider those before us who against the greatest odds managed to start and build successful businesses.

Just as there is no atheist in a foxhole, the writer states, there is no pessimist in a successful start-up.

As an entrepreneur, so many of us have great ideas for businesses, but it isn’t the fear of failure that’s stopping us. Instead it’s the lack of optimism.

Let’s take a closer look at being an optimist.

Being an optimist

According to Webster, the definition of optimism is an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.

Why is it important to be an optimist?

As you taken in what’s happening in your life, it’s best to interpret the information and events with an optimistic mind-set, viewing what you see, hear and experience as more positive than negative. It’s seeing the glass as half full.

Being an optimist means that you view things in a good light and remain hopefully confident that things will turn out well for you.

When bad things happen, optimisim helps keeps things in perspective.

That’s why optimist view negative situations as temporary and something that can be handled or resolved.

Pessimists think it’s the end of the world.

Optimist don’t just sit around with a huge smile on their face, pretend everything is great, and use the power of positive thinking to make bad situations go away.

In fact, optimists are more likely to take action to address the problem than pessimists are.


Pessimits think that the problem can’t be resolved! There’s no solution. They see negative events and experiences as things that cannot be controlled or stopped so why even bother taking action to resolve it.

Optimists do something about it. There’s always a way. Because they have that attitude, optimists general have found to be happier, live longer, handle situations better, have better relationsips, and live healthier lifestyles.

Which came first? Optimism or success?


You might think “Well I’ll be an optimist when I’m successful and living the life I have always dreamt of. Till then, it’s hard to be an optimist when my life sucks.”


Think about someone successful you look up to. Do you think they got there because they are optimists? Or do you think they’re optimist because they’re successful?

I think it’s the former.

Did Michael Jordan come into the NBA with doubts of his abilities? No. Failure wasn’t an option for him. He wanted to be the greatest of all time.

The London Summer Olympics are this summer. What type of attitude do you think have gone through the athletes’ minds while training? They envision themselves as the best. Training hard isn’t enough. Anyone can do that.

There has to be optimism. Often times in sports, the mental edge is what separates the great from the good.

It’s the same in business and in life.

If you believe in success, you’ll be empowered to achieve it.

If you believe in failure, those messages will tend to lead you to experience that as well.

Which one will you choose?

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$100 Startup Chris Guillebeau

An amazing setting for a great book

Chris Guillebeau is a blogger and author who writes at The Art of Nonconformity. He is eight countries shy of his goal of visiting every single country in the world. His writing and message has shaped so many lives, including mine. He has a new book called The $100 Startup and took the time to do an interview with me. 

We live in an amazing time where we have so many resources available to create a successful business from almost nothing.

You’ve proven that in your new book. How did you come up with the idea for The $100 Startup?

The idea came about largely from the AONC community. As I traveled during book tour #1, I kept hearing fun stories of people who had found their own freedom by building a business almost unexpectedly. Then we put a call out to collect more data a bit more intentionally, and I was astounded at the results. I thought: we simply have to tell this story in a comprehensive way.

As you gathered research for the book and came across many amazing stories, what were some of the common traits you found in these successful entrepreneurs?

The case studies were diverse and came from many different backgrounds. What they had in common was an ability to create something useful to the world, not just something that they were personally excited by.

In addition, I think it’s fair to say that most of the unexpected entrepreneurs were fairly curious (they wanted to know everything about their topic of interest) and also somewhat persistent (if the first idea didn’t work, they shifted to something else).

For someone who’s starting a business for the very first time, what are some common mistakes they should avoid?

Mistake #1: going into debt, borrowing money, or believing that you need to do either of those things. Chances are, you don’t.

Mistake #2: failing to convert a general business idea into a specific offer. The sooner you can go from idea to offer, the better. An offer includes a price and a means of getting paid. In other words, don’t wait to get that PayPal button up on your site.

I find that our generation is much different that our parents. I know many parents, including mine, focused only on work and left little for enjoyment until they retired.

Now freedom is what we value the most. Why do you think more people now would rather have more freedom than more money if they had to choose?

Good point. Perhaps some of it is a rejection of an earlier way of life, in the way that most generations tend to do, and perhaps it’s also just the natural evolution of human progress. I think there’s much more of an aspirational aspect to our lives now. We know more of what’s possible, and we know there are more available opportunities.

This is your second book, after The Art of Non-Conformity. Was this book easier or more challenging to write and why?

Much easier. The first book was fairly general and all-encompassing, whereas The $100 Startup is much more specific. It was certainly a lot of work, but in many ways much of the story told itself.

You just turned 34 and your blog is four years old. A lot has changed since you’ve started the AONC.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to the person you were just five years ago before you started this chapter in your life?

“Look out! This is going to be more thrilling than you ever imagined. (Also: why didn’t you start earlier?)”

Traveling is certainly a part of you. Do you have another big travel goal?

I expect that travel will always be an important part of my life. I’m looking forward to traveling with less of an agenda, spending more time in certain places, etc. But I don’t think I’ll revisit every country, and I don’t yet have another specific travel goal.

Virgin Galactic is taking reservations for their suborbital space flight for $200,000 or 2,000,000 frequent flier points. Are you interested?

That would be great! Except I don’t have $200k or 2M Virgin Atlantic miles to spare at the moment, so we’ll put this on the wishlist for the future.


A Copy of the $100 Startup

I’ve got a hardcover copy of The $100 Startup to giveaway to a Get Busy Living reader. It’s a fantastic book and if you’re looking to create a business that you love and get paid for it, this book is for you.

It’s really easy:

  • Tweet, Facebook Like for one entry!
  • Comment below on your “why” for wanting to start your own $100 startup.
  • I’ll randomly pick a winner on May 28th!

Update: Congrats to Grace Biskie who won a copy of The $100 Startup!

Update: the sale is now over. Get on the list to be notified when the next one opens (just click on the link below). 

For the next 3 days, the BIG Only 72 entrepreneurship education sale is on.

This sale starts at Monday, April 30 at Noon Eastern and ends on Wednesday, May 2 at Noon Eastern.

Thousands of people picked up last year’s package. If you’ve thought about buying any sort of business education, this is the perfect time to get a package of courses and guides for one low price.

This time, they’ve put together something special for this sale. In addition to the great courses, included is a copy of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.

I got an early copy and just finished the book. It’s really epic. Inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who started a business with less than $100 and now earn over $50,000. I’ll be re-reading it again for sure. Highly recommended for any solopreneurs out there!

PLUS I have an exclusive special bonus for those who buy through the links on my page. It’s related to a product that’s included in this package. It helped change my life. Can you guess which one? I’ll reveal the answer and special bonus at the end.

Click here to check out the sale

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