We don’t talk much about our work life here. I puzzle at myself sometimes why we don’t.. after all a focus of this blog is about the intersection of travel and technology in our lives. Sharing more about our technology work life would seem like an obvious fit.
Sure, we’ll talk fairly in-depth about the iOS apps we’ve created. And I would imagine that leaves a lot of folks thinking we’re primarily mobile travel app developers. That’s the business aspect that came out of our own technomadic pursuits. It’s the easiest one to weave into conversation.
But there’s a lot more.
I’m a lifelong entrepreneur who has vastly more experience working for myself than working for anyone else.
Not only that, but I am a second (maybe even third) generation entrepreneur.
I grew up in an entrepreneurial household.
I’ve been involved in a range of companies and ventures, but my most consistent income source comes from continuing to run some version of the software development business my father started in 1978. (Yes, computers existed back then!)
Perhaps I don’t share much about this part of my life, because I don’t feel my journey as an entrepreneur is all that helpful to others looking to get started. Or that I don’t want anyone to use the excuse that they’re not capable of it because they don’t have my history.
I don’t have an inspiring story like:
‘She woke up one day with a crystal clear vision and an unstoppable drive.‘
Or a story of woe like:
‘She got trampled by a herd of elephants after being laid off from her job and had to overcome immense odds to feed her family of 10 by selling pencils.‘
Or even the seemingly typical:
‘She hated her cubicle job and decided to take matters into her own hands.‘
I’m just me, incredibly blessed to be born and raised by a technologically pioneering entrepreneurial father and a wise & grounded banker mom (which by the way, is a kick-ass combination… and they’re gleefully in love after 42 years of marriage). Few step into adulthood and self-employment with an existing business to build from.
But really, I think it’s that running a business has been so deeply engrained in my life, that there’s not many natural opportunities to bring it up. It’s just simply part of who I am. Telling the story of when I “decided to become an entrepreneur” would be kinda like me starting to talk about when I decided to breath oxygen.
Woah – We’re Profiled in a Book
“No one is truly a born entrepreneur… but Cherie Ve Ard probably comes close.” - Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup
One evening listening to chirping critters on a tropical island last year, I quite randomly saw that bestselling author and popular blogger Chris Guillebeau was soliciting stories from ‘Unconventional Entrepreneurs’ for the sequel to his inspirational The Art of Non-Conformity book. I felt a kindred spirit with him after reading that book, but never thought in a million years I could be on his radar.
There *may* have been a little rum involved, but that evening I worked up the courage to submit a summary of my story. After all, what did I have to lose?
He got an astonishing 1500+ submissions.
So I tried my best to appear suave and debonair (and not the shocked blabbering idiot I felt like inside) when he approached me at a party at SXSW last year and said my story was on his short list of folks going to the next round. I answered my follow-up questions… and forgot about it.
There was no way he was going to pick my story with all of the amazing people he has connections with. The lack of follow-up contact seemed to confirm my suspicions.
Imagine my surprise last week, over a year later, when Chris wrote asking what I thought of the ‘early galley’ (which apparently means ‘advanced copy’) he had sent me… and if I liked the way my story was presented?
What?!? He couldn’t be serious.
As our mail goes to our forwarding service in South Dakota, it had not yet reached us and wouldn’t for a while.
I went into nervous anticipation of knowing something was in print about me that was realistically capable of appearing on the New York Times bestsellers list, but I had no clue as what area of my story he was telling! And I wouldn’t see it for over a week??
So he had a freshly printed final copy of The $100 Startup overnighted to me. (I’m still in shock that I’m actually typing these words… really, little ole me.. in a big new book??)
I read it cover to cover the evening it arrived.
And WOW. Talk about inspiration. Of the 1500 submissions he got, he dwindled it down to 50 to profile in the book to show various aspects of being an entrepreneur and a huge variety of business ideas that worked for various people.
The focus of the book being that it doesn’t need to take a huge upfront investment to be successful. Just an idea, a straightforward plan and the ambition. He imparts a lot of practical advice from people like me who have actually lived it.
This book reminds me so much of growing up in an entrepreneurial household. I fondly remember afternoons spent with my father and a whiteboard, talking about these same subjects.
- Find something you can provide.
- Find something people will pay for.
- Have a way for them to pay you for it (my mom usually interjected that point).
Whether I was 10, 15, 28 or now 38 – these have been normal everyday conversations my entire life. Bonding experiences with my dad, that lead us to becoming business partners for nearly 2 decades now (ahem – dad, you ARE retiring this year).
You can’t buy the experience I had. No book or course can give you the kickstart of what I grew up with, or the lessons I’ve learned after 18 years of my own entrepreneurship.
But there is something noteworthy happening starting in a couple hours - Only72 may give you a small taste of it. Adam Baker and Karol Gajda occasionally put together a 72 hour “fire sale” on a collection of highly regarded eBooks/eCourse for a fraction of their individual costs.
This time around, the focus is built around The $100 Startup‘s launch – and providing tools to help you build an entrepreneurial business. They’ve rounded up 18 eBooks and programs that can help you build pieces of your business… all packaged up for just $100 (appropriate to the book’s title!).
If you’ve been a reader here for long – you know that we strive to keep this blog as non-commercial as possible. We only share with you about products and services we are using and love… and then, only when an appropriate part of our own tale. We try to avoid pitching.
I’ll be honest, we’ve not read any of the included eBooks so I feel a touch hypocritical mentioning this deal. These just simply aren’t books we feel called towards (our business has been built the old fashioned way – blood and tears). But we do know that our friend Adam has an impeccable track record of gathering up the best of the best.
I’m inspired to share this deal with you anyway. In part, yes – because a hardcopy of The $100 Startup is included - which we are featured in (woo-hoo!).
But also because I know many folks follow us as part of their own journey in building a business model that might become nomad-compatible. So go take a look at their line-up and decide for yourself if the content might be worthwhile in your path.
(And yes, we do get a cut of the sale if you purchase after clicking on these affiliate links.)
Back to the book
The most important business lesson I have learned from my dad was how to combine quality of life with work. And that’s the piece that Chris focused on with my story (he does also make mention of us in the roaming business section).
Most of my early childhood was spent feeling the effects of an entrepreneur becoming so successful that running a business quashed his creative energy… the inspiring fun stuff fell to the back burner. Dealing with managing 50+ employees, investors and marketing became way too stressful.
One of the best things that ever happened was that larger company imploding (there’s a dramatic movie-worthy story here that you’ll just have to ask me about over drinks) when I was 13 and my father scaling it back to become a home-based, location independent business.
I’m quoted in the book about how my father lost some of his passion trying to run that larger business. That was way back in the mid-1980s. It doesn’t go on to tell you how the switch to going small drastically improved our family’s quality of life.
In contrast, my teens where spent with my father working from home, and me learning afterschool the art & joy of technology, software development and business from the most inspirational teacher I could ever have.
When I was 20, I decided to pass on completing college and I joined my parents full-time in that business… and eventually took it over giving it my own flair. We’ve strived for keeping it small and family focused. As a small team working from home, we’ve done some amazingly large projects… and we’ve had a heck of a lot of fun. And we continued, even as my home grew wheels.
I’m very shocked that any piece of my story made the cut at all. Especially with the switch of title to the The $100 Startup (not me) from the original Unconventional Entrepreneur (totally me).
As a lifelong entrepreneur who has since added my life & business partner (my Chris), my story really can’t be summed up in the few paragraphs portrayed in the book. My “start up” costs? Hah. I can’t remember a definitive ‘start up’ point and I can assure you the cost of all my businesses has far exceeded the $125 quoted in the book (that was just the latest corporate filing fee for one of our companies).
A single phrase describing my ‘business’?? Heck, in the book I can’t even clearly name a single company I have ownership in, which shows as there are mentions of Technomadia (not a business) and Two Steps Beyond (my and my Chris’ business). It’s no wonder I come off as having an identity crisis by being referred to as a web developer, app developer and healthcare consultant in various places throughout the book. Yes, I am all of those.
Even if you’re not feeling inclined to take advantage of the Only72 deal – I still encourage you to pre-order a copy of The $100 Startup which gets officially released on May 8 (available in hardcopy and Kindle).
Here’s a video trailer that Chris and his team just released about the book, showing you a couple of the prominent stories in it:
Buy it not only to see our story in print, but because there’s some awesome stuff in there.
(Use the link to purchase it through Amazon.com - and we will get a small cut, our ONLY financial interest in the book.. thanks!)