Entrepreneurs and Burnout (the stuff we don’t like to talk about)

overwhelmedBurnout is one of those things you don’t see discussed often in blog posts or social media. It is not glamorous, it isn’t profitable and it doesn’t sell things. There are euphemisms for burnout that slide through occasionally; we call it overwhelm or stress or we say we are pivoting.   I wonder how often it boils down to the same problem—we all get bored and/or tired of what we do from time to time. We all get funky.  It may be every few years, it may be more often.  We are complex creatures and we can get depressed or just plain burned out with the lives we have built.

I haven’t written in a while. Usually I write when I am inspired, and frankly, my inspiration has been MIA. I’ve looked for it—I have tried to recreate the environments and situations that inspired me before. I’ve discussed my lack of inspiration with my friends and my ever-patient husband (thanks all for your love and listening!) I have tried to cleanse my body and my spirit. I quit drinking wine for a while. I drank extra wine for a while. I joined an entrepreneur group and I attend quite frequently. I even traveled to Las Vegas (one of my favorite towns) for an amazing trade show (trade shows are amazing in and of themselves!) Still…no (or very limited) inspiration.

I cannot seem to get the buzz back into my life. When I began this entrepreneurial journey, about eight years ago, I felt almost high a lot of the time. I was making a lot less money in those early days, but I was a lot more excited. I was thrilled with each and every sale online and loved making even a $2 profit. Shipping internationally was a blast—I was blown away that a person in France could purchase something from a housewife in Indiana and we could complete the entire transaction on this marvelous world wide web. I would go to Walmart and shop to fill orders from my online store and I felt like a superstar; no one else at Walmart was MAKING money while they shopped!

While I was in this inspired state, I went on to create a larger business, hire employees, and purchase real estate with my profits. I executed 5 figure deals from the beach! I worked out most days and was stronger physically than at any time in my life. I enjoyed cooking and traveling and hanging out with my kids. I worked a lot of hours, but entirely on my own terms, and it was so fun to me that it rarely felt like “work.”

My husband quit his corporate job and started managing our real estate.   We paid off our house and sent our first two children to college. We took our extended family on two amazing vacations. Not only was I changing my life, I was improving the lives of the people I loved.

Late in 2016 the business environment for my particular niche changed. That was the possible catalyst for my burnout. I was deep into one particular niche and the price point on the products in that niche decreased dramatically. I spent most of 2017 reacting as the price continued to fall. I had to pivot several times and adjust expenses, advertising and compensation for my employees. I failed to train a manager and I had to motivate and manage our five employees. Somewhere during 2017 I quit having fun. I started this journey as an excited, wide-eyed entrepreneur and I began turning into a cynical, burned-out business owner. I was deep into survival mode–it was, or seemed, impossible to bounce back.

I knew I needed to develop other niches and find other products to sell. The pressure, however, of doing this while keeping the current business going, proved to be difficult. The stress of being the main source of income for my family also took a toll. What started out as a lark—a little grocery store online, had employees and family members counting on the results. It wasn’t a cute little business anymore, it was a large entity with a lot of demands.

2017 ended (did anyone hear me screaming hallelujah?) and the business survived. Our profits were down, but there were profits. We had been forced to adapt continuously all year. But, we made it! I am very proud of this.

The burnout, however still lingers.  Often, it is under the surface; sometimes I even get inspired for a few days. I have introduced a dozen new products online and had some success. I have met and mentored a couple of sellers. I have joined two mastermind groups and partnered with a few sellers on ideas. I have outlined an Online Selling Course and am presenting it in my local community this Spring. I have not, however, really re-kindled the entrepreneur flame.

I have all the tools necessary to multiply my current business. I know, in theory, how to expand online selling in every possible fashion. I have experience in RA, OA, wholesale and private label. I have great connections with data people, liquidation people and even people who navigate China sources. Knowledge is not my shortcoming.

Inspiration is what I need.

I reached out to a good friend, a fellow entrepreneur, last weekend. He did what all good friends should do–he empathized and then told me to get off my butt. He sent me two books that afternoon and the first one I read actually changed my state for the first time in months; Create or Hate by Dan Norris.

Now, I read a ton of books and a lot of those books are empowerment and business books. Basically, I have read most ideas at least ten times. So, I’m actually burned out even on reading. But this book spoke to me. Dan’s insight was exactly what I needed at that moment. It is a quick read, maybe 90 minutes, but he talks about creating and he talks about being an entrepreneur and he talks about failing. His idea of creating more than you consume really hit home (and is the instigator for this blog post.)

Putting my recent experiences into words and exploring my burnout through writing is, I believe, helping me re-focus.

Plus, it is still early in the year and there is still room for New Year’s plans and goals! Have I mentioned how much I love New Year’s Goals?  I have hesitated on writing down my goals so far this year because of my burnout and because 2017 didn’t go according to any plans. It is the first year in a long time that every single business goal I made came up short. But, it is time to embrace this new year, rejoice in what has gone well in 2017, and get excited about my business again.

I am hiring a coach. Not for online selling information, but for inspiration and accountability. I am going to join A.C.E., Sam Cohen’s group. I have admired Sam from a distance over the past couple of years and what I really appreciate is he is “walking the walk” in Amazon; he is currently running a multi-million dollar Amazon business and training others to do the same. I also appreciate that he isn’t directly associated to the folks I have been following for a long time. I have followed great folks—and worthy mentors, but I need some fresh inspiration. I am certain that the experience of being around folks who are excited and performing, coupled with making an investment in the process, will inspire me again.

So, thanks Dan Norris, for inspiring me to CREATE and not hate and for getting me writing again.   I can actually feel the burnout lifting!

I am blessed and grateful and fortunate to live here and now.  I know a beautiful and excited spirit still lives in me. I will keep creating here and am looking forward to 2018.

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Dispense Wellness — your water, your way!

#Dispense Wellness_previewImagine if you could design your own supplemented water and within a few seconds have your unique water blend ready to drink? LifeFuels is releasing a product that allows you to create your own nutrient dense water. You choose the supplements, the doses and even the flavors and the LifeFuel bottle instantly gives you what you asked for.

One day might call for a certain vitamins and supplements, the next day might call for another group altogether. It is all about how you feel and what you need at the moment. Need a pick-me-up? Create your water with caffeine and B vitamins. Having a hard time winding down? Choose melatonnin and chamomile. Recovering from a tough morning at the gym? Lifefuels has a workout recovery blend that will help you along.

LifeFuels-Product-Line-Up-2_previewLifefuels is a new company and this is their first product. It’s a water bottle with space at the bottom to insert three pods with varying nutrition qualities (LifeFuels currently has eight or nine pods that you can choose from, they are planning on introducing more in the future.) I got to personally check out the Lifefuels system at a recent trade show. The bottle was sturdy and well made and the pods slid in and out easily. I didn’t get a chance to experience the app, but my guess is that it is seamless and answers any and all questions you might have about your drinking habits.

Being a bit of a health nerd and always looking for the next edge, this water bottle is very appealing to me. I can see folks in the gym and in extreme sports finding a use for this custom made water. I can also visualize our millennial generation-who love all things unique and custom–finding a home for the Lifefuels Water Bottle.

Let’s face it–nutrition is no longer a one-size fits all situation; we all need different things at different times. This product allows us to create our own nutrient dense drink based on our individual day, mood and tastebuds.

Lifefuels is currently taking preorders; order the best water bottle yet at Lifefuels.

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Earn more than just money selling online—earn credit card “spend!”

Credit Card Computer Guy

Most of us are in the online selling journey to generate real income.  Of course.  We start out small (usually) make a few mistakes (always) and look for ways to source or create products that sell for 10-1000% more than we spend on them.  We want to sell them fast and we need to constantly pivot our products, our listings and our business based on competition, supply and demand.  It can be very challenging and sometimes stressful but also rewarding and extremely fun.  If you want to earn money selling online, join us!   There are articles and videos all across this website to get you started.

A select few people, folks I am hoping to meet in the upcoming months, are credit card gurus looking to generate “spend” on their credit cards so as to get more points and more travel vouchers.  This post is dedicated to them.

If you are starting your online selling business with the main goal of generating spend you can approach online selling completely differently.  I am actually a little envious-I find dozens of opportunities each week that I have to turn down because the profit is too small.  As a credit card point ninja, you are in the perfect position to capitalize on these opportunities that most online sellers are bypassing.

There are thousands of products that are relatively easy to find that will allow you to pay online selling fees (to Amazon or eBay) and make just a bit of money.  Believe me—sellers like me stumble upon them every single day!

You see, the secret to selling on Amazon (or eBay or any other large third party platform) is finding product at enough of a discount to pay the selling fees, which can run about 30% of the sales price if you sell FBA, and enough of an additional discount to make money.  Staples, or commodity type items, go on sale every single day and you can easily get them at a price that allows you to flip them over to Amazon and break even.

In an effort to bring together two of my favorite groups of people—Amazon Sellers and Travel Hackers—I am going to create a short guide teaching you how to do this.  I figure I can put it together in the next couple of weeks.  Please enter your email here to get your free copy. This will be fun!






Simply fill in your name and email below.  In a few short days, I will send you some information on how to generate serious SPEND in an online business.

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Online Arbitrage or…Just Saving Money When Shopping Online

I had a great tutorial with a friend over the weekend who is an EXPERT at online arbitrage (OA.)  Online arbitrage is a term used by online sellers to indicate buying products at one online site to resell them at another.  Usually these products are resold on Amazon.  OA is utilized by thousands of online sellers and the biggest season (you might have already guessed!) is 4th quarter.

Manufacturers try to guess demand of all their products and make the right amount to sell through the busiest season of the year.  This is difficult, of course, and many times certain products are hard to find.  People using online arbitrage as a strategy will attempt to profit from the shortage of products.  Basically, they are bringing these hard to find products to the public at a premium price.

I have bought and sold online for years and am learning the best way to add OA to my bag of tricks.  A simple step in this process is saving as much money as possible when purchasing product.  I learned some amazing tricks this weekend and share them above in a five minute video.  We used CashBackMonitor.com and RetailMeNot.com to get every discount available.  Watch the video, though, for some extra guidelines.

OA Hack:  Saving Money When Shopping Online

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Ideas to make your “To Do” list valuable.

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Having a “TO DO” list is a long time productivity tool. Keep in mind that WHAT you put on the list is more important than anything else. Spend some quality mental time creating a doable daily list. Don’t forget to delegate or eliminate items that are not important. What you choose to spend your time on daily will define where you go and what you do over the long term.

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I am SO EXCITED for my new project.  I have been selling to thousands of people on eBay and Amazon for about 9 years.  Let’s make them MY audience!  I have a MISSION to bring affordable health care products to people.  I am going to keep a video record of my efforts.  This is video #1 and it discusses some eBay hacks to keep your name in front of your buyers.

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In Pursuit of FREE TRAVEL: Adding plastic to your wallet

credit card points I have to admit, it seems counter-intuitive to add credit cards to my life.  I spent a good deal of the third     decade of my life concentrating on getting out of debt, paying off student loans and credit cards as quickly as I could.  Consumer debt and the high interest rates always charged on credit cards can wreck havoc on your finances.  Once I paid everything off, I promised myself I would never carry a credit card balance again and I have stayed on track.

So, when I learned that part of Ketih’s traveling genius involves “churning” credit cards—taking them out to get the thousands of bonus points offered, I admit I cringed a bit.  Handling lots of cards and dealing with the various payments made me a bit nervous.  I like simplicity!  But, with the picture of my European dream vacation forming and getting clearer in my mind, I decided the small hassle of additional credit cards is more than compensated for by FREE TRAVEL perks.

I have reached a responsible level with my finances and know that changing where I spend my money will not affect keeping myself in line with responsible spending.  Again, this program is only for folks who have a handle on their finances and are not in any danger of carrying credit balances.

Once I saw all the free points that I could get by opening additional cards—I decided to take the plunge!  BRING IT ON!  –But which card to choose?

Part of the “secret sauce” for Keith’s formula is to open cards slowly and carefully over time.  We don’t want to do anything to damage our credit score.  Make sure to find out your score and keep an eye on it as you start to take out credit. Check out his book, Travel Like A Millionaire, and decide for yourself how quickly or how slowly you want to earn points.

Next, select your credit card carefully, and, most likely, begin with Chase bank.  Make sure to open a credit card that has an offer that gives you at least 50,000 points.

Chase offers some great cards with exceptional points.  Chase’s points are termed “Ultimate Reward Points” and they can be used in lots of flexible ways for travel.  Chase has partnered with Marriott, Hyatt and United Airlines so it makes using Ultimate Reward points with those companies extremely easy.

For great tips and ideas, read the book, Travel Like A Millionaire, and learn how to travel in style without using your hard earned cash.

Several of the Chase cards have double points in some categories and some of the cards actually pay FIVE TIMES points in some categories.  The reason to start with Chase is that Chase has a rule termed the 5/24 rule.  Chase will only let you take out five credit cards over 24 months—this includes credit cards from any other bank (excluding American Express.)  Most other companies are less strict, so it makes sense (and travel dollars!) to start with Chase when looking to capitalize on credit cards and points.

There are many choices when it comes to credit cards at Chase Bank, right now they have the Chase Freedom Card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card,  The Chase Ink Card for business, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  Most of these cards offer between 60,000 and 100,000 points just for signing up.  The cash value (again, the lowest way to redeem points) on that is $600 to $1000 dollars.  This cash value is if you were to trade these points in for the “cash back,” again, our goal is to get a much higher return with travel benefits.

So, look into your wallet, look at your credit score and then pick the best Chase Card and start earning FREE TRAVEL now.

 

 

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Credit Card Rewards: The First Three Steps

 

Travel concept, airliner, with push pins in european destinations and a map of the world

I believe in setting LARGE GOALS!  That’s why, as soon as I started realizing what credit card points could do for me and my family, I decided to try to take my family of six to Europe entirely on credit card points.  Most of us have never crossed the big pond before and being able to provide a European Vacation for my family is certainly a dream come true.  Online sellers like me spend a lot of money (and can accumulate a lot of credit card points,) so I am fortunate that my “spend” is quite high.  I started out by following the three steps outlined here.  Many thanks to Keith Crowe for inspiring me every step of the way. He is the MASTER of Credit Card “hacking” and learning to Travel Like a Millionaire!

HERE WE GO!  Let’s start at the basics and get familiar with what our current credit cards are doing for us.   This program is ONLY for folks who are currently in a position to pay off their credit cards each month—if you are carrying any type of balance, the interest you are paying more than negates the rewards you can get.  So, please, if you carry credit card balances, getting your credit card debt down to zero is your very first priority.  Get it to zero, know you can keep it there, and then come back and pursue your free travel points.

1.)  What is in your wallet?    The first step you need to take is to look at your current credit cards and see which benefits and rewards these cards have.  Ideally, your credit card should have 1% (or better) given back in rewards and no annual fee (there are exceptions to this—only pay an annual fee if it is more than offset by benefits.)

Take out your credit card, go to your bank, go online, and figure out exactly what benefits your current card is offering.  This will give you a starting point.  Also, notice, your card may give you double or better points in certain categories.  Learn what those categories are.  If you have certain cards with certain generous category rewards and other cards with different category rewards, take a Dymo sticker and write down the best categories for that card and attach it right to the card.  This will help you use the right card for the right occasion.

Do not cancel any credit cards, however.  Even if you discover one that has no benefits to you, just leave the balance at zero and leave it open. The reason for this is that your credit score is partially dependent on the length of time you have held credit cards. Closing a long-term credit card can negatively affect your credit score.

2.)  What is your credit score?  Next, take a look at your credit score.   There are lots of places where you can get this information for free—I used Discover.com and learned that my credit score is currently 749.   Our goal is to take out credit slowly over time and not negatively affect our credit score. My mentor has a couple of dozen credit cards and a credit score close to 850, so I know this can be done.  We want to know what our credit score is before we start the program so we can monitor it as we add credit cards to our wallet.  Again, if we approach this correctly our credit score will stay the same (or even rise) as we take out more credit.

3.)  Quit taking “sucker bets” with the points you accumulate on your current credit cards.   The LEAST value you can get from your points is in cash back, gift cards or magazine subscriptions.  For now, let your points accumulate.  We will show you MUCH BETTER options on how to spend your points in future posts (as I learn this along with you.)  For now, let your points rack up and know you will be using them for great travel benefits soon.

When I started this program, I had the Chase Ink for Business and the Chase Freedom card.  I learned that the Ink for business gives me double points when used at Staples, Office Depot or Home Depot.  I learned that the Chase Freedom card gives me 5 times points when used at restaurants (this category changes every quarter.)  I started using the Freedom when I was eating out and the Ink when I was buying supplies for my business.

To learn to Travel Like A Millionaire, your really need to get the book by Keith Crowe.

So spend some quality time reviewing your current credit cards and learning how you are currently getting point, look into your credit score and stop cashing in your points—you are on your way.

 

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