Photo of guilded statue outside of hotel on Upper West Side of NY, taken by Joana Miranda

I’ve just finished working on Week 42 of the Empire Building Kit.  This year-long course delivered via daily emails, is the brain child of author, entrepreneur and free spirit, Chris Guillebeau.   As I’m now in the home stretch (less than 65 days to go!), I have a much better perspective on what I’ve gotten overall from this course.

Have I been able to build an “empire” or small business earning me at least 55K per year?

Not yet.

Does that mean that the course has been a failure for me?


(In fact, I’m thinking that a good use of my time after I finish the course on May 19th, 2011, would be to go back and revisit many of the daily emails.  This way, I might be able to fill in the various gaps where my business wasn’t at the stage required to take full advantage of the suggestions being offered.)

In case you’re just tuning into my blog for the first time, I’ll recap the year and the challenges facing my business by saying that I not only moved out of state mid-year, but I also changed the focus of my business from hand-fabricated jewelry to designs and original artwork.  This was due in part to logistics, but also in part to my own personal growth and understanding of what I really was passionate about.  My business – in its newest incarnation- is only 3 1/2 months old. Conventional business wisdom says that you’ve got to stick with a business at least 3 to 5 years before you’ll see it really get on its feet and start turning a profit.

If you’re also new to this blog, you might not believe that I have the stick-to-it-ness required.  But read through the past two years of my blog posts and you’ll see that

1. I’ve posted weekly blog updates of my progress throughout the EBK course


2. I reached another personal  milestone the previous year of creating and posting 365 designs a day

(That’s 365 days of designs, rain or shine!)

Talk about rain or shine…this week in the EBK I learned about the efforts of one talented, but out-of-work, architect.  Since designing is closely related to what architects do, it wasn’t exactly cheery to learn that architects have virtually all but been put out of work during this most recent recession.  That made it all the more intriguing to learn how architect John Morefield coped when he found himself out of work.  Rather than moping, going back to school to learn a new profession, or otherwise changing course, he decided to create his own demand.  To do so, he set up a “5¢ architecture advice” booth at a local farmer’s market.  Yes, for 5¢, John would answer pressing questions pertaining to architecture from homeowners, real estate agents and anyone else interested.

Does that sound absurd?

Maybe, but it worked!  Not only did the interest from passerbys lead eventually to more architecture work, but CNN, NPR and the BBC all picked up on John’s clever and creative empire building strategy and helped him to advertise it.  He went from being an out-of-work architect, to having a successful business in architecture working for himself.  If you are curious to learn more about John and his project, please click here.

John’s stick-to-it-ness and willingness to pursue his goals taking unusual paths – regardless of how absurd these paths might seem to an outsider – leads me to one of the most important things I’ve learned in the EBK course.  Doing what you love to do is not only about finding the right career, it’s also about embracing a new philosophy for how you live your life.  That philosophy is based on honoring your true worth and finding a way to share with and help enrich the lives of others along the way.

Building your business and creating a loyal group of fans interested in what you are doing does take an enormous amount of stick-to-it-ness and patience.  It just might also require you to leave your comfort zone and create a 5¢ booth.

Think about it.

What do you love to do so much that you’d still do it for just 5¢?


  1. Erin H P says:

    Thank you for this post–don’t get to read many of your Empire Building posts because of their length, but this one was short enough for me to read and enjoy between chores(a MIRACLE, both boys are asleep as I type, but I know this never lasts very long, so…). Back to more tidying up of the kitchen!!!

    • Hi Erin dearie,

      Thanks for the comment here and for talking yesterday! So nice to hear your voice (and Anton’s in the background, too:-)

      Maybe this week will be a bread-making week. But do I have the courage (and energy)?

      Ciao –

  2. Helen Reich says:

    Well, I know there are things that I’ve been doing for free, more or less, for the past few years (recording and playing gigs with a certain small group of individuals), and I’m going to continue to do it. There’s hope on the horizon that the gigs are going to get better…..I’m working on this part, as are others.

  3. Hi Helen,

    Being willing to do things for free is often the best way to get an “In.” A career counselor once advised me to negotiate an entry to a job I wanted by saying, “If I could, I would work for you for free…”

    I thought that was questionable advice at the time, but when I tried the line, it worked and I was offered the job.

    It sounds like your “certain small group of individuals” is continuing to get more and more exposure – at least that’s what I gather from your emails! I hope the demand continues to increase and that the plum gigs fall in your lap!

    Ciao –

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