Why Every Leader Needs a Sabbatical

Why Every Leader Needs a Sabbatical

As leaders, we tend to be energized and motivated by our work. That can make us resistant to taking time away. Yet the more we work, the more we get caught up in the nonstop whirlwind of activity that can leave us exhausted and ineffective. In this episode, we’ll answer your top three objections to taking extended time away from work.


Questions Reveal Your Interest

5 Strategies to Get Understanding

Questions Reveal Your Interest

Anytime a person must gather information, there is no substitute for asking the right questions. Asking the right questions means asking someone to teach you things you do not know, or correcting you if your knowledge is distorted.

We see forms of questions all around us: a manager interviews a job applicant, a detective talks with an eyewitness to a crime, a parent asks a child for a summary of the school day, a TV reporter interviews a newsmaker. One quality that drew me to journalism was the prospect of interviewing interesting people and writing about our discussions.

Based on my years of interviewing people for a living, and listening to other interviewers of greater talent, these are principles I have found reliable in helping people reveal their deeper truths, those things that they would like to discuss if only someone would ask.

1. Prepare

Unless you are a genius of improvisation, you will likely need to prepare a list of questions and to do any necessary research in forming those questions. The most rewarding conversation often occurs if you rely on your list of questions only for your first question or two. Consider the list your safety net and something that will quietly inform your subsequent questions.

2. Follow through

Why prepare a list of questions you may use only minimally? The most rewarding material in a conversation often occurs in a subsequent question informed by a person’s answer. You will hear this frequently in a gifted interviewer like Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air: a celebrity will allude to a childhood memory, or to some other more intimate detail. Though Gross can sometimes go too far and ask questions that sound invasive or boorish, the important principle is that she is willing to take risks for the sake of a compelling detail. There is a delicious quality when Gross asks a risky question, there is a slight pause, and then the subject answers her question with a soul-baring candor.

3. Be open-ended

Another way of putting this is to be non-directive. Unless you are a prosecutor at full throttle in a courtroom, your task is not to prove a point or to ask people a question that conveys how you want them to answer. Your task is to ask an honest question about what you want to learn from them. Andy Raskin wrote on Medium about overhearing a Famous CEO teaching a Young CEO about two simple questions that the late Steve Jobs asked of employees at the film studio he helped oversee: “Tell me what’s not working at Pixar,” and, “Tell me what’s working at Pixar.” Who would not love answering a question like this by the boss, so long as it was clear the boss meant it?

4. Dig for a person’s dignity

Any effective conversation builds on an understanding that you have something to learn from the person hearing your questions. That person has a family history, struggles that few others know about, and most likely some wisdom gained from experience. Ask questions that show you want to know some small part of that person’s story, something of what makes that person unique.

When I interviewed theologian Ron Sider for my book about tithing, I thought my best question was whether his book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger had inspired many people to take on the hard discipline of a graduated tithe, in which a Christian gave a higher percentage with each higher step in income brackets. No, he said, precious few people had ever mentioned that detail. But somewhere in our conversation, he delivered what I considered the most poignant details by discussing his disappointment that his effort at living in intentional Christian community came apart at the seams. That sort of vulnerability does not come cheaply to the person making the disclosure, but it flows from a conversation that indicates love and respect.

5. Be willing to walk away

This last point is simply my way of admitting that not every attempted conversation will succeed. I remember only a few examples from my years of interviewing people as a reporter. In one case, a public school teacher was so cautious about everything she answered she gave that she spoke at 50 percent of a conversational pace and had me read her answers aloud immediately afterward. After a few questions, I conceded that the interviewer was leading nowhere and (more important) assured her that I would not use anything she had said, lest she feel her remarks had been bowdlerized.

In another case, an actor launched into a long-winded monologue worthy of a telemarketer who will not you to get in a word edgewise. In short, sometimes the person to whom you are extending love and respect is less willing to receive or return it. In moments like those, there is no shame in cutting your losses and bringing the conversation to a polite conclusion.

How a Fascination with Sleep Helped This Mom Build a Lifestyle Business

How a Fascination with Sleep Helped This Mom Build a Lifestyle Business

What I enjoy most is the freedom to work on my own terms, in my own time and to have full responsibility for the work I put in and the rewards I receive. Every single day I wake up grateful to be able to do this job.

As long as she can remember, Heidi Holvoet was fascinated by sleep. As a little girl she was curious about dreams. Later she wondered how and why we sleep. Growing up she studied physics, but always kept an interest in sleep.

When her children were born, her theoretical interest in sleep took on a very practical meaning. Every new parent realizes how very important this thing called sleep suddenly becomes.

She began taking notes on the techniques that helped her babies sleep soundly. When friends asked her for advice, she turned to her “little box of sleep tips and techniques.”

Gradually she realized that her insights could help many more parents, not only her friends. But how could she best do this? Should she write a book? Start a blog? Post on social media? Neither of these approaches could accomplish what Heidi wanted.

So in the end, how did she achieve her goal of helping babies and their parents? And not only that, but also build her own business based on her fascination and knowledge around sleep?

That’s what we are about to find out!

1. Heidi, how did your career evolve from a PhD in science to becoming a baby and toddler sleep consultant?

Good question! 🙂 It really wasn’t as big a step as it may seem. Still, I didn’t go from nuclear physicist to sleep consultant overnight. I think my desire for helping people, combined with a strong need for personal freedom as well as an interest in a broad range of topics, has steered my career this way.

I absolutely loved being a research fellow at university. It was very exciting to be in nuclear physics research at that time! But I had to explore the world outside of academia too, so I worked as a consultant in a financial software firm for a few years.

I absolutely loved being a research fellow at universityThose years taught me a lot: about science, about finance and about doing business. I also learned a lot about people in these different environments. I found the human psychology fascinating. In the end, I knew I couldn’t thrive in the self-centered financial world, nor did I want to continue in academia, so it was time for the next step.

I was ready for my own business: a business that I could run from my heart, on my own terms and that would allow me to truly, directly, help others.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passionate interest for everything related to sleep. I’d always done my own personal research on the topic. I’d also always wanted to build my own business one day.

In the meantime I’d been blessed with two beautiful children. In the baby years – shared with many sleep deprived parent friends – I discovered that, with what I’d learned over the years about sleep, I could actually help other parents and their babies sleep.

That made my next career move easy: helping parents to help their babies sleep, and to reach them via my own online business.

TAKEAWAY #1: The path to starting your own business may not be a straight line, but if you truly want it, you will find a way. And you will know when the time is right. Your business topic can be related to your professional career, or it can come from any other area in your life.

Heidi chose her topic based on a longstanding interest in anything related to sleep, and her heartfelt wish to support parents during those tough times when their babies keep them awake all night.

Do you struggle to come up with a topic for your business? This article might help.

2. Your interest in sleep obviously directed your niche decision. But how did you know that it also had good business potential?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure at first that it had good business potential. The competition was, and is, fierce. Parents with babies and toddlers form a huge market that in many ways was saturated, even 10 years ago.

I was convinced though that I could offer something that no one else did: generous, kind and truly useful sleep advice, founded in scientific research and backed up by personal experience. Offered online and primarily for free, i.e., accessible to everyone.

I went through a lot of possibilities when researching how I could best publish all the information I wanted to share: a book? a blog? social media posts? None of those could accomplish what I wanted.

That’s when I found SBI!, which offered the ideal tools and knowledge I needed. It helped me build a strong content-based website, geared toward reaching many visitors, offering them high quality content for free.

It was also suitable for including paid business opportunities as and when appropriate – but never without losing sight of my main goal: to help as many parents out there, from the heart.

TAKEAWAY #2: Heidi didn’t jump to the most popular choice for many solopreneurs: blogging. Instead, she searched for the optimal way to publish her information, so that she could best serve her audience and build a profitable business.

We’re not discouraging the would-be solopreneur from blogging. It can build a viable internet business if your niche lends itself to that format, for example in the fast-changing fields of technology, consumer electronics and internet marketing.  However, most niches are better served with a theme-based content site.

Why? Because with a theme-based content site you create a long-lasting body of work that will be as relevant in 2028 as it is in 2018. You update pages as necessary, instead of posting updates (the blogger’s approach). One complete page about a topic that is up-to-date is more attractive for search engines than a series of “what’s new” pages.

High-quality evergreen content, by its very nature, delivers higher volumes of search traffic for less work.

Want to know what’s best for your business idea? Dive deeper into the differences between blogging and a theme-based content site here.

3. You provide lots of information and resources for free. How do you “upgrade” people from being free content seekers to paying customers?

Baby SleepingPaying customers are those visitors who purchase one of my e-books or who take 1-to-1 email counseling with me personally.

The e-books are natural extensions of the content that’s freely available: they go deeper into the subjects and more importantly offer practical programs for parents for solving their current baby sleep issue, step by step and with more detailed guidance.

The 1-to-1 counseling is for those parents who want to work more closely with me and get personal coaching to accomplish the results they want. These parents come to me because they know they like my approach after spending some time on the website or they’ve heard about me from friends or family.

4. You offer four e-books for sale on your site. How did you decide on the topics? Can you share your best tips for e-book publishing?

Pretty soon after launching the site, while I was still writing all the foundation articles, I put up a simple “Ask a question / Q&A” service. These were the first steps in my 1-to-1 email counseling.

Parents could choose whether to receive advice for free in return for allowing their answered question to be published on my site or pay a fee to receive my advice confidentially.

I offered that service because I was convinced that such a personal connection was what parent visitors would need the most.

And it was. And I felt blessed finally to be able truly to help others. It was so rewarding!

At the same time, it “automagically” generated three more things for my business:

  • Highly relevant content for my site from the free advice.
  • A modest early income (my entry fees were low!) from the paid advice.
  • Topics for my e-books.

I used SBI!’s Content 2.0 (C2) tool for that Q&A and it’s been a very good content builder and traffic generator because those pages contain answers to real questions that parents search for online, so they are super relevant.

TAKEAWAY #3: Now that’s a really clever way to monetize your website in its early days and create highly relevant content at the same time. Almost any topic lends itself to a Q&A section. Your audience may not be prepared to pay a fee for getting your answer, so you can offer them the two options as Heidi did.

What you will certainly get is fresh content for your site, which in turn helps you get found at the search engines for highly targeted searches. And more likely than not, the questions will also reveal in-demand topics for paid products like e-books, audio lessons or online courses.

SBI!’s Content 2.0 tool makes it super easy to add a Q&A section. Whenever a visitor submits a question, a fully functioning web page is created. Visitors can upload up to 4 images to illustrate their question. And other readers can comment on the question, or your answer, and share the page with friends and family.

Check out Heidi’s Q&A section for a live example. Heidi currently doesn’t accept new questions, but you can see how much quality content her visitors’ questions and her answers created.

Back to Heidi and her tips for e-book publishing…

I soon discovered that a few specific issues kept coming back, i.e., recurring issues that many families struggle with and that aren’t easily solved. And those issues naturally became the topics of my e-books.

I wanted the e-books to be, as much as possible, DIY versions of my 1-to-1 help. From the experience with the Q&A, I knew what parents needed in order to make real progress with their baby’s sleep.

That knowledge helped me create very focused and very practical step-by-step programs. A sleep-deprived parent needs hands-on help, delivered quickly – without needing to wade through chapters of page-filling background.

Heidi in her work-at-home office.
Heidi in her work-at-home office.

My best tips for e-book publishing?

Make your writing:

  • targeted (information you know your visitors want),
  • high quality (give it your all to make the information truly useful), and
  • carefully crafted (respect for your audience leaves no room for sloppy grammar, spelling or formatting).

Even if this takes more time than putting something up quickly, all your marketing and sales efforts later on will be a thousand times easier if you have a solidly good book to sell.

TAKEAWAY #4: Can you spot the central thread that weaves itself through everything that Heidi does, and which makes her so successful?

She knows the needs and wishes of her audience inside out. She then delivers the exact solution her readers are looking for, in the highest quality and most suitable format. In other words, she OVERdelivers, in both her free content and her paid products.

OVERdelivering is at the core of SBI!’s proven Content Traffic PREsell Monetize process for building a profitable, long-term business you can be proud of.

Talking about OVERdelivering, Heidi isn’t done yet with her advice for e-book publishing. She has two more insider tips for you…

Two specific things that have been particularly helpful for me when self-publishing my books:

1. If you’re just starting out: keep it simple and move quickly. Meaning, once you’ve created your high quality writing, find the shortest way to publishing your e-book!

Copy editors and designers can help take your book to the next level, yes. But when you’re just starting out and put in the work – and maybe a hand from willing friends and family for some proofreading – you can put your DIY version up for sale.

If you created targeted, useful and decently presented content, your visitors will buy even if your e-book doesn’t have the fanciest cover. And they’ll help you save up for a next edition of the book, for which you can then hire editors and designers to move up a step.

2. Do beta-reading rounds. Having real people from your target audience read your book and give feedback before you publish it is worth each beta-reader’s weight in gold.

Recruit beta-readers from your email list or social media, not random friends: you want them to be part of your real target audience.

Make sure the beta-reading phase is a win-win: your readers should truly benefit from the privilege of having early access to your book. If appropriate (for example self-help type of books), offer coaching help as they read and use the book. That will give you even better insights into how the book works for them and where it needs improvement.

And it will make your beta-readers all the more motivated and engaged, which you need in order to get valuable feedback. Beta-readers typically deliver your first raving reviews and become your books’ biggest fans!

Heidi recruits beta-readers from her newsletter or social media followers to gain valuable feedback for her e-books.
Heidi recruits beta-readers from her newsletter or social media followers to gain valuable feedback for her e-books.

5. What other income streams do you have, apart from selling your e-books, and how well do they perform?

My 1-to-1 email counseling is my other primary income stream, and affiliate product links for the Amazon Associates affiliate program the main secondary one.

The counseling performs well in the sense that it is popular, the income is good (my fees have increased along with my online presence over the years) and it’s what I love to do: connecting directly with other parents and being able to help them.

The main disadvantage is that it’s difficult to scale. The email exchanges involved are very time-consuming for me and that limits the number of people I can help in this way.

The affiliate links for Amazon do reasonably well, considering I don’t have many at all, and the very limited effort they cost to maintain. But visitors to the site tend to find them quite useful as I only refer them to those products that I know – either from personal or client experience – to be truly helpful to parents.

TAKEAWAY #5: A big part during your business preparation is to research and plan the best ways to monetize your website. While you may have a main method in mind, never put all your “monetization eggs” into one basket.

SBI! provides you with a handy “monetization planner worksheet.” You’ll work your way through several monetization possibilities. For each one, you’ll assess how feasible it is for your topic, interest and time availability.

Then you pick your primary monetization model, which you implement as soon as you have a certain number of pages and a steady stream of visitors. In Heidi’s case, her primary monetization model is her 1-to-1 counseling services. While services usually have a high profit margin (depending on how much you charge), they don’t scale well. You are exchanging your hours for money, and your hours are limited.

So Heidi made a smart decision: She added two more monetization models to her income mix that are less time-consuming: creating and selling e-books, and promoting relevant products via the Amazon Associate program.

6.www.baby-sleep-advice.com is currently being redesigned. What made you decide to do a makeover? Are you doing the whole redesign on your own?

So far I’ve always designed the site myself: several small design changes through the years and a major overhaul when we went mobile-friendly in 2013. I don’t have professional designer skills but SBI!’s tools and templates made it doable for me to make a decent-looking site.

I’m currently planning to have the site redesigned professionally. This should deliver a very modern professional site, not only in the way it looks but more importantly in functionality and user-friendliness.

Also, outsourcing the redesign leaves me more time to work on the core of the business: connecting with and delivering high quality content and services for my site visitors.

TAKEAWAY #6: As Heidi points out, with SBI! you don’t need to be a designer to create a professional look & feel for your website. SBI!’s Site Designer enables you to create an elaborate design from scratch or use one of the many free, fully responsive templates with as much or as little customization as you like.

However, at a certain point in your business growth, you may need advanced functionalities that would take you too long to learn how to implement. In that case, it makes much more sense to outsource the task, so that you can focus on your core business.

Be diligent though in your search for external providers. Their idea of redesigning your site might be very different from yours, as this last minute update from Heidi shows…

A little while ago, I considered leaving SBI!.

The reason was that I wanted to outsource the design and maintenance of my site to a web design and digital marketing company, and they only offered this on their own preferred platform. That would also allow them to add technical functionalities I could not implement on my SBI! site myself such as app-like interactive menus.

After an extensive preliminary design period and a trial within the other platform, I found out that neither the design nor the new functionalities outweighed the benefits of having my site with SBI!.

To name just a few:

  • The absolute flexibility and control I have over my site – even when outsourcing parts of the design.
  • The zero amount of down time my site has had since first going live in 2008.
  • The way SBI! ensures we have access to all necessary information on new developments as well as the functionalities needed to keep an online business running.

    A very recent example is how easy SBI! made it for their members to become GDPR compliant. Switching to a secure HTTPS site is a snap (having a secure site is the first requirement for GDPR compliance). SBI! also provides a privacy policy template, a cookie consent widget and GDPR compliant forms – all at the click of a button. Priceless!

TAKEAWAY #7: Who wouldn’t be tempted by fancy, modern-looking designs and cool features? But, at the end of the day, you need to ask yourself which provider (web host, site builder, whatever you may call it) looks best after your business interests.

Who enables you to run your online business efficiently, and saves you time by keeping up with the ever changing world of internet marketing?

In a recent survey, we asked our customers for the top 3 ways in which SBI! has helped them succeed. In third place was the fact that SBI! provides them with exactly the information they need to know (at any given point in time) and which action – if any – they have to take to stay current with today’s online business requirements.

But we don’t stop there. We also give our members the tools they need to implement required changes, like the HTTPS switch and the GDPR cookie consent widget. What has your webhost done for you lately?

Heidi's current homepage design - all done by her.
Heidi’s current homepage design – all done by her.

7. You have a strong presence on Facebook with over 20K fans. Why did you choose Facebook as your main social media channel? What do you do to build an engaged audience?

Facebook turned out to be the main social media channel of choice for most of my target audience, so it’s natural for me to focus my efforts there. It’s also a very easy platform to share content as well as engage and interact with existing and prospective followers of my site.

I don’t post very frequently, at the moment once or twice a week: mostly a mix of my own content and fun and/or endearing photos/videos/quotes that my audience typically likes.

Since Facebook doesn’t easily show Page posts to all followers, I regularly boost posts, in particular the ones with my own content.

Overall I like Facebook’s advertising options: they are easy to implement and to test, and they’re affordable.

Besides my main Facebook Page, I’ve recently started connecting with specific segments of my audience in a private Facebook group. It’s a support group to which I offer exclusive access as part of a premium package with one of the e-books.

As they work through the plan in the book, parents can discuss with each other and/or ask me questions. It takes me a couple of hours a week but that is more time-efficient than regular 1-to-1 email consultations would be, which makes it more scalable.

TAKEAWAY #8: Heidi mentions a key point for social media success: choose the network(s) where your audience naturally “hangs out.” How do you know which channels your audience prefers? Assuming that your business is based on a passion or hobby of yours, you most likely know from your own experience.

At which social media network do you “hang out” to learn more about your niche or connect with like-minded people? If your answer is “none,” here are some rough guidelines:

Visual niches like travel, photography, food and crafts tend to do well on Pinterest or Instagram. They often also do well on Facebook.

If you’re a business coach, marketing consultant or accountant, you should probably be on LinkedIn.

And if your target audience is very young, consider Snapchat or Tumblr as your channels of choice.

8. What has been your biggest challenge so far as a solopreneur?

I actually love every aspect of being a solopreneur and that includes the classic challenges of continuously keeping the business in good health and growing it while staying true to my core values.

One thing I have found challenging over the years is finding the right people to outsource to. I haven’t outsourced a lot, mainly a few short design and copyediting jobs.

In the end those were mostly positive experiences but it was always a tedious search to find the right people for the job, who were qualified, professional and also truly understood – or made an effort to understand – what my business is about and how to address my audience best.

On the upside, those challenges taught me a lot about other companies as well as my own business, so in the end it’s worked out positive!

TAKEAWAY #9: That’s an interesting observation from Heidi. While there is an abundance of places where you can hire freelancers (e.g., Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Brickwork India), finding the right one is still a challenge.

You probably have to try various freelancers before you find someone who satisfies your expectations. If you want to outsource certain tasks on an ongoing basis, or are looking to hire a Virtual Assistant, it’s worth investing a good amount of time to find the best person.   

On the other hand, if you want to “out-task” a highly specialized one-time job, e.g., adding a Shopify store to your site, and you are an SBI! member, we recommend you save yourself that time and hire one of our SBI! Professionals. They have been carefully vetted by us, are excellent in their areas of expertise and have intimate knowledge of the SBI! platform.

9. What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed you, your life, your family?

What I enjoy most is the freedom to work on my own terms, in my own time and to have full responsibility for the work I put in and the rewards I receive. Every single day I wake up grateful to be able to do this job.

The time I get to spend with my children and family thanks to my super flexible work hours is priceless, and something I’ll always cherish more than anything.

Every day I also thoroughly enjoy the little pleasures: being able to go out for a walk with my dog, coffee with a friend or go running, at any time of the day that I please.

Last but not least, being able to truly help the parents that visit my website is incredibly rewarding; something that makes my day, every day.

TAKEAWAY #10: Freedom, flexibility, fulfillment… these are the non-material rewards that solopreneurs value the most, even more than the financial rewards. (Although these are pretty awesome, too! 😊)

We also love Heidi’s reminder to cherish the everyday pleasures that a work-from-home, being-your-own-boss lifestyle brings. With an online business, your work adapts to your life, not the other way round.

Enjoying the little pleasures of life with her dog “Storm.”

10. And finally… What’s your top tip for someone who is just starting a solopreneur career?

Start simple and launch early!

Once you’ve done your research and know what you’re going to do, launch with a simple first website version.

Grow the site as you go, because you’ll learn so much about what your business needs purely by running it. Then every aspect evolves together and most efficiently: site content and functionality, the products and/or services you offer, traffic, your online presence and your connection with your customers.

Also, always work with a passionate heart and a fierce business mind, constantly explore new ideas and technologies, experiment, and strive to offer the highest quality value to your customer.

And, of course, start with SBI!

TAKEAWAY #11: True to her dedication to OVERdelivering, Heidi doesn’t offer just one top tip, but three:

  1. Start simple and launch early. In other words, do your research, but don’t overdo it. You can never learn everything there is about running an online business before you start. The (sometimes terrifying) beauty of an online business is that you are never done. There’s always more to learn, try and develop.
  2. Work with a passionate heart and a fierce business mind. You can’t go wrong with that combination!
  3. Start with SBI!. We couldn’t agree more. 😉 SBI! gives you a 10X to more than 100X higher chance of building a high-traffic website than other major site-builders and web hosts. Don’t take our word for it. These data studies prove it.

Author information

Heidi Holvoet

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, nuclear physicist turned passionate baby and toddler sleep consultant, certified breastfeeding counselor, award-winning author and founder of BabySleepAdvice.com. Since 2007, Heidi’s been helping many 1000s of babies and their parents worldwide to sleep well.

The post How a Fascination with Sleep Helped This Mom Build a Lifestyle Business appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

The Counsel of Scorpions

Who We Choose to Listen to Matters

The Counsel of Scorpions

Solomon was said to be the most successful king that Israel ever had-renowned for his wisdom and his riches. His heir Rehoboam, not so much.

Of the 12 tribes of Hebrews that constituted the nation of Israel, 10 revolted under Rehoboam’s reign. Later leaders would manage shaky alliances. But after Rehoboam, it was no longer just Israel that people spoke of but rather “Israel and Judah.” (And what most of us think of when we think of ancient Israel-Jerusalem, the temple, the Davidic dynasty-was actually Judah.)

What happened?

Some lump Rehoboam’s failure up to heavy taxation. That’s part of the story behind the fracture, but far from the whole of it. Kings, like all leaders, rely on their advisors to read the mood of their constituents. And whose advice Rehoboam chose to heed here proved ruinous.

Monarchy at the time was a new experiment for Israel, and it faced resistance. One failed dynasty (Saul’s) gave way to a more successful one (David’s, expanded under Solomon). The last recognized prophet-leader of Israel, Samuel, had warned the people against the high costs of a monarchy.

Samuel preached against “the ways of the King who will rule over you.” There would be mass conscription for his army and his palace, enabled by heavy taxation and with what we might call “eminent domain“ today.

The king would expropriate “fields, vineyards, and olive orchards,” along with “a tenth” of the nation’s grain and livestock and gift them to his generals and cronies. Echoing the Hebrews’ Egyptian past, the prophet predicted the people would ultimately be the king’s “slaves.”

And that is, by and large, what happened. “King Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful central government the Hebrews would ever see” explains historian Richard Hooker, “but he did so at an impossibly high cost. Land was given away to pay for his extravagances and people were sent into forced labor into Tyre in the north.”

Consequently, when the great king died “between 926 and 922 BCE, the ten northern tribes refused to submit to his son, Rehoboam, and revolted.”

Whips and scorpions

The story behind that revolt is told in dramatic fashion in the first book of Kings. Many people petitioned their new king at the time of his coronation. They rightly pointed out that his father had laid “a heavy yoke” on them and asked for some relief.

The people said they would pledge their undying loyalty to him if he would give them a little bit of breathing room. This seemed to surprise Rehoboam. He asked for some time to consider their petition while he consulted his retinue.

Among his advisors, Rehoboam found two schools of thought, diametrically opposed. One group, the greybeards, advised what we might call servant leadership. They said that at the very least he should “speak good words” to the people and consider reducing royal demands. Another group, his peers and flatterers, said that would indicate weakness. The impression that the people needed to have of their new king was that his “little finger” was “thicker than his father’s thigh.” He liked that advice better.

So when the petitioners returned for an answer, hoping for the best, they got an earful instead. “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it. He disciplined you with whips. I will use scorpions,” the new king informed his subjects.

Sticks and stoned

Such a frankly Pharaonic pronouncement did not play well with this crowd. Rehoboam had promised scorpions, but it was their response that really stung. They declared, “We have no inheritance” in this “son of Jesse,” Rehoboam’s great-grandfather. They refused to recognize him as king and crowned their own competing king of Israel instead.

Rehoboam tried to reassert his rule by sending a fearsome “taskmaster over forced labor” into the North to restore order. The people responded by stoning the taskmaster to death. Even within Judah, Rehoboam found himself embattled, holed up in Jerusalem. He called up an army of 180,000 men to march north and take it back.

They were stopped in their tracks not by an opposing force but by a prophet named Shemaiah, who delivered a message from a Higher Power. “Thus says the Lord,” Shemaiah prophesied, “You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home.” And that was that. Unified Israel was undone.

Rehoboam’s folly, and ours

One obvious lesson here is that Rehoboam failed because he acted not like a leader but like a caricature of a leader – what we would call a dictator or a tyrant. Though they may make claims to the contrary, no leader’s power is absolute. They operate under both material and manpower constraints. Their constituents or soldiers or followers or customers ultimately will have some say. In this case, what they said was, “Enough!”

Then there is the matter of the advice Rehoboam chose to take. It was whatever comes after “bad.” And it was a disaster.

Imagine that you are an ambitious new CEO. You have just laid our your vision for the organization and you talk to advisors who break down into two schools of thought.

One is a group of seasoned pros who know the workers and customers well. They say they want to help you realize your vision but point out real obstacles to progress. They propose that you make some practical concessions. They advise that you get buy-in from stakeholders and from your team-and that you give serious consideration to your customers as you change things.

The other group is younger, hungrier, more ambitious. They tell you that you should go forth and change the world, avoiding all advice from “naysayers.” They tell you that any caution is really a concession to fear and that you should “go with your gut.” In fact, maybe you aren’t going far enough! In other words, they tell you something that is much more pleasant for you to hear.

What this particular vignette teaches us is that it is unwise to dismiss the cautions of your seasoned pros out of hand. At a minimum, hear them out, take their reasonable concerns to heart, let that inform how you speak about your vision going forward. More honey, fewer scorpions.

Anatomy of a Great Decision

Anatomy of a Great Decision

Decision making may be the toughest thing leaders do. we have to make critical choices that affect the welfare and livelihood of dozens or even thousands of people-often using conflicting or incomplete information. In this episode, we’ll show you the three factors leaders must consider when making an important choice.

How This Solopreneur Rebuilt his Future After Being Bullied Out of his Job

How This Solopreneur Rebuilt his Future After Being Bullied Out of his Job

My family and I may never fully recover from what was done to us by The Calgary Herald, but becoming an online business owner has given us a way forward and hope again for the


After 22 years of dedicated service to his employer, Anton Hout was fired. Overnight, he went from earning a good income to nothing. He lost everything, including their family’s home.

On top of the financial stress, Anton suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, caused by years of severe bullying at his workplace.

To heal his wounds, he started a website about workplace bullying. This first foray into the online world was meant as a form of self-therapy, but it led to much more. It opened his eyes to the possibilities of earning an income online.

The more he researched, the more he liked the idea of starting an online business. When he finally found Solo Build It!, the path to a brighter future unfolded, a future where he would be in control of his destiny.

But let’s hear Anton’s story from the beginning…

1. Anton, you started your online business after a 22-year career that had begun as a dream job but ended in a nightmare. Can you tell us more about that?

Newspaper PrintingWhen I was at The Calgary Herald newspaper I worked my way up to become a Journeyman Printer in the Composing Room, which later became the advertising production department.

Unfortunately, I had to join a union that was continually resistant to technological change. Since I loved the innovations, especially after Apple revolutionized the printing industry with the Macintosh, this put me at odds with senior union members and the union executives.

I then helped the company to start a commercial printing division, which engendered more jealousy, animosity, and resentment. Harassment, bad-mouthing, and sabotage of my work began in earnest.

As if that weren’t enough, I then developed software for the company that dramatically improved the efficiency of the ad proofing process. The software was purchased by the company and was eventually rolled out across three departments.

If the union goons were hostile before, this drove them foaming-at-the-mouth rabid. At this point, I even received a threatening message at my home.

All of this abuse had gone on for years. Management did nothing and eventually even joined in. This level of stress for so long had affected my health and I was forced to take time off work.

While on short-term disability, attempting to recover from the effects of the abuse, the company terminated me, with the full support of the union, of course.

After 22 years of dedicated service, going well above and beyond the bare requirements of the job, I was fired and given no severance. $0.

I went from earning a very decent living to nothing overnight. We lost everything as a result, including our home. I now had PTSD and was barely functional. I limped along and attempted to find other work. But my work experience was so specialized that it was almost useless.

Shell-shocked and without marketable skills, it is about this time that I created my first website. It was about workplace bullying and was a kind of therapy and a way to try to warn others. But in doing research on other websites, it exposed me to things like Google ads and affiliate programs.

I began to wonder if it was possible to actually earn a living online; to eventually be able to work from home, be my own boss, and never again be put in a position where I would have to endure the kind of abuse that had devastated our lives.

It wasn’t long before I stumbled across Solo Build It! (back then still called Site Build It!). Hmm, this SBI! thing looks interesting, I thought to myself…

TAKEAWAY #1: Wow. That sounds like the stuff for a (horror) movie. Being bullied and eventually laid off at work for bringing efficiency and innovations to the table? Shouldn’t you be rewarded for helping improve your company’s bottom line?

It’s scary to think that your dedication and engagement at work could turn against you and eventually lead to losing everything. Luckily Anton’s story has a happy ending. He was determined to find an alternative way to make a living; one where he was in complete control and no one could take away what he had built: his own online business.

His choice of topic might surprise you. It had nothing to do with his decades of experience in newspaper printing… Meet “Levi,” Anton’s faithful Australian Shepherd dog.

Levi, Anton's Australian Shepherd dog, and the ''founder'' of his online business.
Levi, Anton’s Australian Shepherd dog, and the ”founder” of his online business.

2. How did you decide about your niche, Australian Shepherds? How did you know it was the right topic for you and had great business potential?

The niche I decided on was almost decided for me. After coming home from work I would spend my time learning about changes in the printing industry and develop skills on my own Mac that would help me troubleshoot problems at work.

In the last few years at The Calgary Herald, I would come home and work every day on the software I mentioned. I would add new features, or work out bugs. I was determined to prove my worth to the company to counteract the attacks by the bullies.

So, I had no other interests or hobbies that I could develop a website around. And at this time just the thought of anything that reminded me of the publishing industry made me ill.

However, we had an Australian Shepherd, Levi. He was the most wonderful, smartest, amazing dog ever! I saw that other “SBIers” had websites about dogs. It was the only topic I could think of at the time. I marveled at people who had the problem of too many niche ideas and having to narrow down their choices!

I checked the numbers in Brainstorm It! and they seemed okay. But, at the time, I didn’t take the Action Guide nearly as seriously as I should have. As a result, the initial keywords I chose and the resulting site blueprint were sub-par. This resulted in the success of the site taking much longer than it should have.

Fortunately, in spite of my missteps, the niche has proven to be viable. That has, in large part, been due to me going back and fixing the problems I created for myself. My advice to anyone just getting started is to save yourself a huge headache and do it right the first time. Follow the Action Guide!

TAKEAWAY #2: “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter,” said Mr. Olivander, wand maker in the Harry Potter novels. Seems that in Anton’s case, the niche chose its owner!

Which is a good thing, as it guarantees that the topic is a great fit. Passion and knowledge about your chosen topic are crucial for long-term business success.

Of course, your love for the topic shouldn’t be the only deciding factor – unless you create your website purely as a hobby, not as the basis for a profitable business.

The first 5 chapters of the SBI! Action Guide (we call them DAYs) are dedicated to researching, evaluating and comparing your niche ideas. This research includes keyword brainstorming (using Brainstorm It!, the tool mentioned by Anton), audience and competitor research, and an in-depth evaluation of possible monetization options.

Once you’ve gathered all that intelligence – ideally about more than one niche idea – you’ll decide which niche fits you best based on…

  • overall profitability
  • competitiveness (if you can only work part-time on your online business, you should choose a less competitive niche), and
  • your passion and knowledge for the topic.

3. Tell us about your philosophy regarding content. How do you know what your prospective customers are looking for? Where does this information come from?

I have several sources for content ideas. One of the C2 Invitations I’ve added to the site is a Q & A Forum. So if I see a lot of questions on a particular topic it can become a candidate for an article. The same goes for questions that come up on social media.

I also subscribe to newsletters that are related to my niche. Many companies that have products my readers are interested in have newsletters that can be a great source for article ideas.

Another way to find out what your customers want is to research what they are buying. I check on sites like Amazon.com to look for best-selling products in my niche.

This works out well because not only do you get an idea for an article but you also have a specific, relevant product you can let your readers know about. (I only choose products that I have checked out myself or have high star ratings and great reviews.)

One – often overlooked – way to find out what your readers want is to ask them. I use social media to directly ask for feedback or, as I have often done, ask for article ideas in my newsletter.

I’ve even asked readers if they would like to submit their own articles for consideration. I have received several great articles from readers about a specific topic they were passionate about, had in-depth knowledge of, and for which they were able to provide a unique perspective.

In addition, I use a handy notification service provided by Google. You just enter the keywords you want and Google sends you email alerts. This is a great tool for content research or keeping up to date with what’s going on in your niche.

Last, but not least, is Brainstorm It! and the Master Keyword List (MKL). This is the bread-and-butter of keyword and content research and through which I pass any of the ideas I find using the other methods.

TAKEAWAY #3: That’s a whole list of excellent ways to find content, and even products, that will resonate well with your audience. Let’s recap them:

  • Ask your readers. Use all the options you have – on social media, in your newsletter and on your website. Anton mentioned C2 (or Content 2.0), which is one of SBI!’s tools. It allows your visitors to contribute content to your site (text and images). A Q&A section is a great example use for Content 2.0.

  • Stay on top of your niche. Subscribe to newsletters from competitors and providers. Create Google Alerts to be notified when new articles about your main keywords are being published.

  • Research what your audience is buying. Amazon is the ideal place to start this research, as you can find basically everything there! Plus, you have the added benefit that you can review and promote relevant products as an Amazon Associate, so that you earn a commission whenever a reader buys via the link on your site.

  • Use Brainstorm It! regularly. SBI!’s keyword brainstorming tool tells you how often a term or phrase is being searched for, and how much competition there is. It also reveals keywords that you might have never thought about.

    The Master Keyword List, which is the analysis part of Brainstorm It!, helps you find the most relevant and profitable topics (aka keywords) to write about. Especially in the beginning, this will be your main content idea source, your “bread-and-butter,” as Anton calls it. But it’s a good idea to keep using the tool regularly to discover new topics and to check demand and supply numbers for topics you’ve found through your other sources.

4. You provide lots of information and resources for free. How do you “upgrade” people from being free content seekers to paying customers?

When people find one of my web pages, they often have a particular problem or are looking for a specific solution. That’s why having the highest quality content is so important. If people see that the information on my website is good they will be more likely to consider one of my recommendations favorably.

I use banner graphics to promote affiliate products as well as my own ebook. I test the graphics to see which ones get the best response. The better the quality of my free content, the longer people stay on the page. The more times they return to the site, the better the chances that they will finally be intrigued enough to decide to click on one of those promo banners and find out more.

If a page is about a topic that has relevant products, I will include the affiliate links in the text of the page. For example, on some pages about dog behavior problems I include a description of an excellent dog training program that can help solve the reader’s problem.

This can also be done in conjunction with custom banners or, for example, Amazon image and text links in order to promote very specific products.

Another important way to keep in touch with my readers and remind them of the products I recommend is through the newsletter.

While there may be a fine line between being too aggressive and too timid in your promotional efforts, it is important to remember that the products you recommend have to be top-notch. Never take your readers or customers for granted.

A rule-of-thumb I use is to ask myself, “Is this is a product I would buy (or have bought) myself or would recommend to family and friends?”

Anton promotes his own ebook and trusted affiliate products with banners in the right hand column of his web pages.
Anton promotes his own ebook and trusted affiliate products with banners in the right hand column of his web pages.
TAKEAWAY #4: Providing quality content is clearly Anton’s guiding principle in all areas, whether it’s creating free content, his own products (ebooks) or promoting other people’s products. When you put your readers’ and customers’ interests first, your success will follow.

The unique content you create is at the heart of your online business. It attracts the right people, and lots of them through free, organic traffic. Your visitors like what they see, so they start to trust you, to see you as an authority in your niche.

They re-visit your website. They subscribe to your newsletter. They follow you on social media. We call this process PREselling – as it’s the crucial stage before a visitor finally becomes a customer, or acts on one of your other monetization methods (e.g., buys a recommended affiliate product, or clicks on an AdSense ad).

In other words, monetization comes at the end of the Content Traffic PREsell cycle. Too many solopreneurs start with monetization, and fail. Not so Anton. He followed SBI!’s proven C T P M process.

5. How many different income streams do you have? Which ones perform best?

With the Australian Shepherd site, I probably have about a dozen income streams but the vast majority of revenue comes from a core of four.

The problem I found in a dog-related niche was that people will often research online but purchase at a local pet store where they can see and feel the product or easily return it if necessary.

That has changed to a certain extent as a result of Amazon. People trust the buying process and are used to ordering with them. Since the shipping is relatively inexpensive or even free they’ve become a viable and even preferable way of shopping. As a result, Amazon is now one of the strongest performers for me.

However, it’s still nice to be able to find products that are only available online. For example, while there are plenty of places to buy t-shirts at local stores you’re not likely to be able to find any that feature dogs, or specifically Australian Shepherds. I’ve had great results with a company that sells dozens of Aussie t-shirts from their online store. I’ve even added a couple of my own designs to their site.

I’ve also found a terrific program that offers online dog training videos. Before I joined their affiliate program they gave me full access to the entire program which features hundreds of video lessons. This is a product that provides excellent value and is one that I would be happy to recommend to my family and friends and my readers. It also checks the box of only being available online.

While the above are strong performers, the best by far is my own ebook, the “Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care.” It took a substantial investment of both time and money to develop this ebook into what it is today, but it has been worth every minute and every penny.

When you create your own product you own it. You have control over the quality and the customer support. Affiliate programs come and go. They can change their policies, drop you from their program, slash their commissions, or disappear altogether.

But your own product could be the foundation of your business that sees you through the rough patches or serves as the springboard that opens up new opportunities.

I have other smaller revenue streams. Every little bit helps. For example, I sometimes promote merchants through their programs with sites like ShareASale and LinkShare. However, promoting those merchants generally means putting another promotion or banner on my site for each one. Pretty soon there are just too many ads and they all become ineffective.

Pruning AdsSometimes less really is more. So I’ve recently tried to prune back the ads to just those that perform very well.

Speaking of pruning back ads, I used to have great success with Google’s AdSense. Unfortunately, earnings from AdSense have dropped precipitously. Besides that, you always have to be alert to competitors’ ads showing up on your site. I still use it on my other site related to sleep aids because I don’t have my own product and haven’t yet found affiliate products that perform as well as I would like in that niche.

I’ve also added a directory of Australian Shepherd breeders. I offer free listings as I want the directory to be as complete as possible, but I also offer premium listings for an annual fee which have several exclusive upgrades and services that are not available for free listings.

How Anton's Australian-Shepherd-Lovers.com evolved over the years.
How Anton’s Australian-Shepherd-Lovers.com evolved over the years.
TAKEAWAY #5: Again, lots of fantastic lessons in Anton’s reply, especially if your business is in a similar niche. When you compete with local stores, try to find promotable products that are only available online. Also consider joining Amazon’s Associate Program. Their commissions are rather low, but people love buying from Amazon.

However, Anton’s key monetization advice is this: “When you create your own product, you own it.” Yes, it takes much more time and effort to create your own product than to recommend other people’s products. But, if you’re serious about growing your business, having your own products (or services) is a must-do.

As an SBI! member, you’ll have access to comprehensive articles and tutorials for creating and selling your own products, from simple ebooks to audio or video courses to physical goods.

6. How long did it take to start earning income from your online business?  Is it a full-time or a part-time income?

It actually took quite a while, several years, but that was mostly because I got off to a slow start and strayed from the path (the SBI! Action Guide).

I’ve managed to cut my expenses and live more simply, which has enabled me to not have to work at another job. For me, this is a full-time income. I haven’t yet matched the income I was making at the newspaper, but I plan on achieving and then surpassing that amount.

In the meantime, I am earning enough that I can now stay home and dedicate my time to building my online business fully – which is helping to accelerate my success even further.

TAKEAWAY #6: Unless you got carried away by one of those deceptively well crafted Get-Rich-Quick promises, you’ll know that earning an income online does not happen overnight. A good rule of thumb is to expect the first earnings to come in after about 6 months.

For Anton it took several years. Why? Because he started slowly, and because he “strayed from the path,” as he freely admits. In SBI! terms that means that he did not follow the Action Guide closely.

Can following a guide really have such an impact? It can, and it does. Time and again our most successful members quote the Action Guide as one of the top contributing factors to their success. See for yourself in our 2017 survey and again in 2018.

Think of the Action Guide as your personal mentor. It takes you by the hand and leads you from one business-building step to the next, in logical order, and with the right knowledge and tools to execute each step.

Could you find all that information yourself? Eventually. But at what cost? You can’t execute with passion, excellence and focus if you’re spending time searching for answers, if you’re unsure of what to do next. With the Action Guide, you’ll leave that uncertainty behind. You are free to focus on building your business.

Anton at his work-at-home desk, coffee in hand to keep him going!
Anton at his work-at-home desk, coffee in hand to keep him going!

7. In addition to www.australian-shepherd-lovers.com, you own 3 more SBI! sites. How do you manage all that work? And, in hindsight, was it a good idea to start more than one online business?

As I developed my first SBI! site, Australian-Shepherd-Lovers.com, I began to earn an income. While revenues steadily increased I never really knew, as things progressed, whether or not I had reached the limit of what I could realistically expect.

I thought, if I was earning this much from one site and I needed two or three times that amount to replace the income from a job then all I needed to do was create two or three more websites. Simple. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily work that way.

TAKEAWAY #7: That’s a trap that sadly too many solopreneurs fall into. They believe they can double and triple their income simply by building more than one website. And it’s no wonder, considering how companies like Wix and GoDaddy tout how easy it is to build a site, or that you get dozens of domain names for the same price.

If their marketing claims were true, most of their users should be successful, right? To the contrary. In recent studies, we saw that 84% of sites built with Wix are “invisible” on the web, i.e. they get zero traffic. With GoDaddy, the percentage is 74%.

How can you avoid falling into that trap? Change your mindset. You’re not building a website to make some money. You’re building a real, long-term, profitable business. Would you start two businesses in the offline world at the same time, say a bakery and an auto-repair shop? You wouldn’t. It’s the same online.

But let’s get back to Anton. Did he learn his lesson?

I don’t regret starting the second SBI! site though as it was the new-and-improved website about bullying to replace the original site I had built before discovering SBI!. The primary purpose of OvercomeBullying.org was to help raise awareness about bullying, especially workplace bullying, but I was able to generate enough revenue to financially justify at least some of the time I spent on it.

However, it is a difficult topic for me to have to immerse myself in day after day. I’ve recently decided that maintaining that site just takes too great a toll. But, as long as the information on the site helps others dealing with the kind of abuse I went through, I would like to leave the site up as a public service.

My third site, SleepAidGuide.com, was going gangbusters for a while. Then Google changed their algorithm and my traffic fell off a cliff; down to ten percent of what it was. I’ve managed to recoup much of that traffic since then, but it has taken a lot of time and work. Given how much I’ve put into the site I’d hate to do it but I may eventually sell it.

One has to also consider the opportunity costs. For every minute and dollar I spend on that site, it’s time and money I don’t have to invest in my Aussie site.

If you have two trees and only enough water for one, do you give the one tree all the water it needs so it thrives and let the other one die? Or do you give them both half the water they need and have them both die?

So, at this point, what did I do? Start another website, of course! But this time it would be different. It would be related to my Australian Shepherd site. That way I could cross-promote and use my Australian Shepherd site to help get it off the ground.

I did it by the book; got a coach to help me with the blueprint and made sure everything was perfect. It was going to be my “SBI! masterpiece” all about dog agility training.

It was beautiful. Too bad I’m almost the only person in the world who ever saw it. I just didn’t have the time to make it into a success. At least this time I had the sense to cut my losses. I won’t even give you the domain name because it’s not up anymore.

The good news is that I really did need a better dog agility training section on my Australian Shepherd site and I was able to salvage the content from the agility site and thereby improve the Aussie site. That’s what I should have done in the first place!

australian-shepherd-lovers.comHave I learned my lesson yet? Nope. Well, I really am going to focus on Australian-Shepherd-Lovers.com, take it to the next level, and really polish it. But I am casting about for ideas for another site. If I did it in a measured way, taking into account the demands that would entail, I can see being able to handle it.

Perhaps, with any extra revenue I can generate, it’s time to make more use of freelancers and virtual assistants than before so I can free up the necessary resources to make them both successful.

Then I’ll have my fantastic Aussie site and my awesome yet-to-be-determined site. But once those two are up and running smoothly…

TAKEAWAY #8: Seems that Anton hasn’t yet found a complete cure from his “more than one site” syndrome. However, he has learned some good lessons along the way.

For example, when your first online business is well established, and you’re satisfied with the income level you’ve reached, then (and only then) is it a good time to consider starting a second one. And the more relevant it is to your first business, the more they can create a synergy that supports both.

At that point you should also have enough income to outsource tasks or hire help. You’ll be surprised how much more you can achieve when you delegate some of the tedious day-to-day work. Of course, you first have to find the right person. Here are 5 steps to hiring the perfect virtual assistant for your business.

8. What has been your biggest challenge so far as a solopreneur?

My biggest challenge would have to be time management and its attendant impact on productivity. While I have made improvements in this area it’s still very easy for distractions to creep in.

With YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime bringing us a world of entertainment right to our computers, not to mention our social media channels and emails that are constantly demanding our attention, it’s often difficult to get in some real focused and productive work.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to put some rules in place to help keep things on track. For example, I like to do the biggest and most important tasks of the day first. That way I am fresh and able to do my best work before I start running out of steam.

Even if chaos strikes, I can still be happy that I’ve gotten something accomplished that helps move the needle for my business. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind and jump on those vital projects first!

I’m still not as good about following my own “rules” as I could be, but I know conquering this challenge will be key in growing my online business.

TAKEAWAY #9: Time is a solopreneur’s achilles heel. You have to do it all, from keyword research to writing content to creating products to growing your social media presence, and more. Managing your time wisely is crucial to your success, as Anton pointed out.

Eliminating distractions and focusing on the most important tasks each day is an excellent approach. And did you know that multi-tasking or task-switching makes you less productive? Experts estimate that the loss in productivity can be up to 40%. So, put those blinders on and focus on one task at a time!

9. What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed you, your life, your family?

I really enjoy not having to immediately jump out of my warm bed when the alarm clock goes off. I love my commute; to the kitchen for a coffee and then back upstairs to my computer. (Yes, I’m a “Coffee Achiever.”)

Yes, I'm a ''Coffee Achiever.''I especially enjoy that even though I may only work a given number of hours a day, my websites work to generate an income for me 24/7/365. I love that I have created my own “safety net” (with special thanks to Ken Evoy and the team at SiteSell who made it possible and SBI! that provided the tools).

My family and I may never fully recover from what was done to us by The Calgary Herald, but becoming an online business owner has given us a way forward and hope again for the future.

Are you a “coffee achiever,” too? Would you like to shorten your commute, while building a business for yourself and your family?

Author information

Anton Hout

Anton Hout has a background in advertising production and design in the publishing industry. Anton now develops his online business from his home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and shares his passion for Australian Shepherds and raising awareness about and helping those dealing with bullying and workplace mobbing.

The post How This Solopreneur Rebuilt his Future After Being Bullied Out of his Job appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Words as Self-Sabotage

3 Steps to Get Your Brain Back on Track

Words as Self-Sabotage

You are often your own worst enemy. It starts with the words out of your mouth and the voices in your head. From telling yourself that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to take on a new challenge to the nagging doubts about important career moves, the negative words in your mind are obstacles to the success you want to achieve.

A little self-doubt is normal because life is filled with uncertainty. The risks that you take to stretch yourself and succeed are real ones, accompanied by the possibility of failure. But when you speak ill to yourself, you are hurting your chances for success.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are three simple steps you can take right now to stop sabotaging yourself-and affirm your capacity for success.

The words in your mind are obstacles to the success you want to achieve.


Tweet Quote

1. Change the words in your mind

Gospel singer Hezekiah Walker once sang, “I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.” But each and every day, people sabotage themselves with the I can’ts and I’m not good enoughs in their minds. Not only do these words cause career-limiting procrastination and indecision, they even contribute to physical ailments and untimely deaths.

Simply ignoring these words of doubt isn’t enough. You must combat them with affirmations of your capacity to take on challenges and succeed. This starts at the end of the day by listing and reciting I cans, I ams, and even I wills, affirming your ability to achieve. By affirming yourself before going to bed, you organize and focus your mind on achievement.

Another strategy lies in recalling your past successes-and writing them down so you can reference them every now and then. Even the simplest signposted achievement can cause you to feel positive about your ability to succeed in the future. More importantly, those thoughts, along with the positive words, crowd out the negative words stuck on repeat in your head.

2. Deal with the fears inside

William Shakespeare wrote in Measure for Measure that “Our doubts are traitors.” They make us “lose the good we oft might win.” Those doubts, and the words of self-sabotage that emerge from them, result from the fears of failure. Too often, these fears are allowed to fester.

You must realize that fear is not a sign that you are incapable, but merely the signal that you must take on the next challenge. By understanding fear as a positive signal, you can then take action instead of wallowing in indecision and procrastination. That fear can even help you find ways to avoid pitfalls on the way to progress.

At the same time, you should accept fear as a healthy way of driving your own self-improvement. You may not know everything you need to take on the next challenge. So read books on the areas you are about to undertake, and seek advice from sponsors, mentors, and others whom you trust.

3. Embrace the fact that you are enough.

Once you embrace words of affirmation and leverage your fear for success, you will stop engaging in self-sabotage-and see yourself as more than capable of achieving what you set out to do.

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards,” said the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. This means looking at your past successes and moments of overcoming adversity, then using those lessons to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Once you embrace words of affirmation and leverage your fear for success, you will stop engaging in self-sabotage-and see yourself as more than capable of achieving what you set out to do.


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Another step lies in realizing that you are smarter and talented than you think you are. If you have achieved in the past, you can succeed in the future. By remembering this, you are engaging in what author Margie Warrell describes as calling out the critic, dissecting the doubts and words of self-sabotage that keep you from seeing your full potential.

Finally, you should stay true to yourself. This is critical in pushing back against words of self-doubt and the self-sabotage that results from them. Steve Jobs once said that you shouldn’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice. Knowledge that you are being true to your best self is a great way of shutting out the inner critic as well.