The 7-Figure One Person Creative Business With Elaine Pofeldt

What if you could do work you love, earn great money — and have a lifestyle you enjoy? In this interview, Elaine Pofeldt talks about businesses that are doing just that and gives tips on how to get there, including ways to make more money as an author.

In the intro, I talk about Apple Books for Authors – now available on PC, Ingram Spark’s new free ISBNs and revamped dashboard, and Nielsen report that people are reading more in lockdown [The Bookseller]. Plus, “Where do you get your ideas?” My answer with pics of my travels at I also mention the 7-Figure Small Podcast.

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Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist, editor, and professional speaker specializing in careers and entrepreneurship. She’s also the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want.

You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.

Show Notes

  • Why people choose the entrepreneurial route
  • How the cover-19 crisis might affect choices about lifestyle
  • How small businesses are pivoting to serve current needs
  • Resilient attitudes that help small businesses
  • Commonalities among those small business owners that are successful
  • How a big picture view helps with getting day-to-day tasks done
  • Ideas for how authors can create other streams of income
  • How to become a memorable brand

You can find Elaine Pofeldt at and on Twitter @ElainePofeldt. You can find the revised edition of the book here for pre-order for 2021 or get the original edition here.

Transcript of Interview with Elaine Pofeldt

Joanna: Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist, editor, and professional speaker specializing in careers and entrepreneurship. She’s also the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want.

Welcome, Elaine.

Elaine: Thank you so much, Joanna. It’s great to be here.

Joanna: It’s great to have you on the show. And this is such a killer book title.

First of all, tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing.

Elaine: Wow, that’s a great question. I think I was born a writer. I started writing stories, short stories when I was in kindergarten. And I always was one of those kids who was on the school newspaper or the literary magazine and I continued that into college. Then I started my career as a newspaper reporter, morphed into a magazine reporter. And then when I had my third of my fourth children, I went freelance in 2007 and I haven’t looked back.

Joanna: That’s fantastic. And that book is so good. I read it when it first came out. I think I had it pre-ordered on the Kindle because I was like, yes, million-dollar, one-person business, I want that.

Elaine: I think everybody does. The vast majority of one-person businesses will not get to one million, but I do think that every business can be optimized to make its maximum so that the owner or the person doing all the work can have more time to do the other things that they love.

I know your audience is very engaged in fiction writing and that doesn’t always pay a lot of money. So if you have a business and you want to free up more time for the creative side, I hope that there’s some good ideas for you in this book.

Joanna: Definitely. And so you’ve mentioned freeing up more time.

What are the reasons that people choose this way of life rather than say work in a typical job or go the entrepreneurial startup route?

Elaine: I think it’s basically wanting to love their life and wanting control over how they spend their time. Time is our most precious commodity, right? We can’t get any more of it. And we can’t get it back if we misspend it.

I think people often get to the point where maybe they get some experience in their chosen field working for someone else, but they’re sitting in the conference room one day and somebody is grandstanding and the meeting is going on for 3 hours when it could have taken 10 minutes and they’re thinking, oh, I’d really love to be home with my children right now instead of wasting three hours of my life in this conference room or I’d love to be outside mountain biking. It’s a beautiful sunny day and if I work for myself, I really could be doing that instead of listening to this.

And I think it starts to build in people where they start to realize, you know what? I know what I’m doing. I have a valuable service of some sort to offer. Or I could come up with some type of product-based business and free myself from this whole system that really doesn’t work for who I am right now. It may have worked at one point.

A lot of times when people are young, their work is their social life, but at a certain point, you’re meeting people in different ways so you wouldn’t really be isolated if you had a business. And I think it all starts to come together and build up into becoming an entrepreneur.

Joanna: And you mentioned there about the importance of time. And we’re recording this at the beginning of May in 2020 at the time of coronavirus.

Elaine: Exactly.

Joanna: I think a lot of people are probably assessing their life. A lot of people are being laid off, but also people who haven’t been laid off will have more time to think about what they really want.

What do you think the impact of this time is going to be on the type of lifestyle you talk about?

Elaine: It’s an interesting question, Joanna. I think it’s been a very stressful situation for people and tragic in many ways, but at the same time, it’s been a gift because it’s almost like we pushed the reset button on the world and had a chance to think about does the pace we’re living at make sense?

Are we just running from one thing to the next without any mindfulness about our lives and what really matters to us? I think a lot of people are part of these systems of school and work and other things that keep them apart from their families and their friends because they’re also busy and now we’ve had a chance to not be so busy and enjoy time with our kids and our friends and our spouses and our partners that we haven’t had before and think about what do we want going forward?

Do we want more of that going forward? Do we want more time to do work we love and less time doing work we don’t love? Do we want more time just for quiet contemplation as opposed to just getting in the car and running to the next activity, whatever that is? Or jumping on the subway or however you get places. I think it’s been a real gift.

Joanna: It’s interesting. Though I must say I really want to get out there and go traveling again, I feel like, yes, I’m enjoying being at home, but boy, I would like to get out of here.

Elaine: I know. Travel is, I think that’s one of the things that people are really missing, but I think they’ll appreciate it so much more when we’re able to open the world back up again. However that looks. It might be a world where we’re all wearing masks for a long time and gloves and other things. But I think we’re going to appreciate how precious that is that we can travel and see the world.

Joanna: And in fact, travel is one of the reasons I went fulltime creative entrepreneur back in 2011 because I know as a writer, I get my inspiration from traveling and you just don’t get enough time when you have a day job right? You have to ask for leave.

The asking permission for leave is something that drives me nuts.

Elaine: Absolutely. It’s funny because one of the things I felt when I first started my business in 2007 was that I finally could treat myself like an adult. I felt like when I was an employee, I would always have to run things past my boss, like my child needs speech therapy and I need to take half a day off to bring them to the doctor. Is that okay?

When it was of course okay. I was their mother and I should have been taking them to speech therapy. But it had to be run through another adult who would say yay or nay. And there’s something about that that starts to wear on you.

I think one of the great things is you can make all the decisions for yourself when you have your own business. You have the responsibility of bringing in income while you’re traveling the world or taking your kid to speech therapy or doing whatever it is you’ve chosen to do, but you’re in charge and not somebody else.

Joanna: And also I guess coming back to the coronavirus lockdown we’ve seen some businesses are very impacted, highly impacted. Let’s take airlines for example. Airlines are grounded basically, but there are many businesses that are pivoting or changing.

Of the smaller businesses you talk about, which ones are the most resilient, and how are people pivoting to manage?

Elaine: People that are pivoting successfully are looking at what the market needs now instead of thinking about what they usually sell and trying to stick to that. That’s what I’m seeing.

One example is Harry Ein who I wrote about in the book, he runs a business called Perfection Promo. And what he does is sell swag. I don’t know what it’s called in the U.K., but it’s those t-shirts with a company’s name on them or the pins you get at the bank with the bank’s name on them. And he sells it to B2B customers, mostly to give out at events.

Well, guess what? All the events are canceled so he can’t sell them right now. So he’s pivoted. He was able to get a supply of masks and he’s pivoted into selling the masks right now. And he’s positioning himself for when businesses start to open up the need to supply them with masks.

For instance, if a restaurant opens up, we don’t know what that’s really going to look like with the health codes, but he’s assuming masks will be part of that. So he’s figuring out how do I tap into that B2B market instead of my usual one.

Another woman that I’ve written about for ‘Forbes’, Alicia Schiro is a million-dollar, one-person event planner. And what she’s done is pivoted into virtual events. And when I first spoke with her in the beginning, there was kind of a shock through the meetings and events industry because everything just suddenly came to a standstill and this is how everybody makes their income.

But she thought about it and she realized a lot of companies are having their quarterly meetings now and if just one Zoom call after another, people droning on, it’s getting boring. So she had a lot of celebrity contacts.

She started reaching out to the companies that had the meetings and saying, would you like a celebrity at your meeting to liven things up? And the celebrities are at home and because they don’t have to travel, they charge less to appear at a meeting than they would if they came and gave a keynote.

She’s been arranging those kinds of meetings. When I last was in touch with her, she was doing quite well. She was really busy booking virtual meetings. That’s another example of kind of staying within her niche, but pivoting to this more virtual world that we’re in.

I’m also seeing some interesting pricing strategies. There were two brothers, the Vaisman Brothers, Albert and Boris, who live in Toronto and they sell socks. The business is called Soxy and they sell very colorful men’s socks, with crazy prints and things like that. And they pivoted into women’s socks too. And they sell shoes.

They’re a novelty gift and people aren’t as focused on that type of purchase right now so what they did was change their pricing where if you pay full price for the socks, they will give a pair to a nurse. And I’m sure nurses are wearing through a lot of pairs of socks right now because they’re working nonstop and plus it probably brightens up the ward a little bit compared to the usual medical gear.

But if you can’t afford it, you can take a 45% discount. I think the other ones were 20% or 10% off. And what they did on their website was explain if you pay the 10% off, this is what your purchase goes toward. And if you pay the 20%, this is what it goes toward, etc.

So you could see how it impacts the business because they’ve, since I wrote the book, they’ve now grown to 15 employees. They have a warehouse and they don’t want to lay anybody off. So this is their strategy for keeping people employed and it’s been working so far.

I think you’ve got to look at a lot of different aspects of your business to find how you will personally survive during this. And I’m sure there are some that have been unaffected because they do their work remotely, they’re working for industries that really aren’t affected, etc. But most of them have been in some way.

Joanna: I remember the first week or two of shock of going, oh my goodness, everything’s changed. Oh no, I need to make some more money. And then as things settled down a bit, it was sort of, okay, you know, it’s not a total disaster, especially for those of us with an online business. But the attitudes you talked about there was this letting things go quickly and moving into a new idea, which is a really resilient attitude.

What are some of the other attitudes that people who have these types of businesses have in common?

Elaine: You did point to one thing that I just want to call out Joanna, which is speed. That’s one thing I noticed is everybody went into shock. But for most people, it was two weeks of shock. For these folks, it was two days.

It was funny, one of the entrepreneurs I profiled more recently, Sean Kelly, is a young entrepreneur. He dropped out of Rutgers University. He started a business selling rapper jerseys. He couldn’t afford the sports jersey licenses so he was creative and he reached out to musicians and he built a million-dollar, one-man business. And he got into the mask business recently, but it was like lightning compared to most people.

I thought, wow, that’s something I can learn from them because they don’t hesitate. They have a really, really strong bias to action and experimentation. And if it doesn’t work out, so be it, they’ll move on to the next experiment.

I think that’s something we can all learn instead of hanging on to what you were doing. They realize it’s a temporary situation, but there’s a lot of opportunity in this situation too. So I think that’s definitely one of the attitudes is just a bias toward speed.

Another thing that I observed when I was updating the book, it’s coming out in paperback in January 2021 so I went back to the sources, they are all optimizers. A lot of times when people read a book about starting a business or growing a business, they want five easy steps, right? Like you do these five things, you’re going to be at a million. And they’re really simple.

It’s just a matter of one day’s work. But that’s not really the case. Some of these are 11-year overnight successes and some of them are 1-year overnight successes, but they optimize the resources they bring to the table personally.

In some cases, it’s their personality. In some cases, it’s their experience or connections from their industry. In some cases, they have a lot of startup capital. In some cases they have good relationships with different types of outside financing, but they lean into whatever it is, they don’t all have the same things, but they just have that tendency to make the most of whatever they have.

And I think that’s something we can all do more of. Instead of thinking about our deficits and what we don’t have, use our strengths to get to where we want to go and not let other people define your value. I think a lot of times when people leave a traditional work situation, maybe they were pushed out like a lot of people are being right now because of COVID-19, a lot of people are losing their jobs in countries all over the world and that can hurt your self-esteem and make you feel like, well, maybe I have no value. Maybe I was wrong. I thought I was successful, but they didn’t keep me. They kept someone else.

In reality, it doesn’t matter when you’re an entrepreneur. It’s up to you to define your own value. And we all have amazing strengths and gifts. And if you can find them within yourself and bring them to the marketplace, then it’s up to the market to decide and you to decide, not a boss somewhere.

So I think that’s important too. And I think these folks have done that. They’ve defined their own worth instead of letting someone else tell them what they’re worth in the marketplace. And obviously, your worth isn’t just what you’re worth in the marketplace. We’re all human beings and there’s a greater, greater worth that we all have beyond that. So they have that.

A couple of other, just more practical things, big users of automation, we don’t waste a lot of time in their business on routine tasks like scheduling. I think you had a scheduling app and a lot of people are using tools like that.

They’re very industry-specific apps for every type of business that you can imagine. What might work for e-commerce won’t necessarily work for a writing business, etc. It’s important to reach out to other people in your field and find out what they’re using because you can see easily save one day a week if you put your mind to it by using time-saving apps.

For a writer, imagine having one extra day a week where you could just sit down and do your fiction or do your nonfiction, whatever you write. It’s such a gift from the heavens to have that time and apps can give that to you.

The other things that they’re doing are using contractors to help them and using outsourcing, which are two different things. A contractor might be a web designer instead of designing the website yourself if you’re not a designer. Outsourcing would be using Fulfilled by Amazon.

If you’re selling a product on Amazon, for instance, you’re not packing up boxes yourself and doing things that you really don’t need to do as a business owner. Sometimes people are hesitant to spend any money on these things, but it’s hard to make money if you’re just caught up in the weeds of the business.

I think that’s a mindset shift that has to occur in a lot of people before they can really get into the mid-six figures and beyond, not kind of counting every penny, but thinking about the big picture.

And then a couple of other things I noticed, one, they are self-educators. I always thought that mastermind groups were kind of a scam all these years. And then when I heard how they used them, I realized they’re not a scam at all. They’re really valuable because they put people in a group of their peers and maybe people who are a little bit above them in terms of knowledge of their business and it challenges them to grow and it’s a safe space where they can run ideas past other people who care about the same things. And I found a lot of them were in private masterminds or had a coach. They’re believers in coaching.

What happens a lot of times in small businesses is you can get to $200,000 to maybe $500,000 a year in revenue by working really hard depending on the business, maybe you work seven days a week, but it will burn you out. And where they bring in a coach is to help them get past that zone so that they can do things more efficiently and get to the million in revenue.

By the way, the million-dollar is to inspire people. These people have gotten to $1 million in a solo business, but for each person, your million might be different. So maybe you need $200,000 because you live in the country and the cost of living is low. There’s no reason to arbitrarily go after $1 million if you don’t need it. The idea is to create a life you want and have time and freedom, but a lack of financial scarcity, which is very distracting if you’re trying to do creative work.

So I just wanted to say that because sometimes people think, oh, if I can’t get to a million, it’s not even worth trying. But a million is an inspirational number that can be achieved as we see, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

The final thing I would say is, I noticed a lot of them are into some type of mindfulness practice. They’re meditators or doers of yoga or other physical things that give them time for their brain to just clear so that they can be creative. I think that’s important for writers. There’s so much in our minds that can be unleashed if we work on it and give ourselves space to do that.

And these folks I see as very similar to writers in that they’re very creative people and not by the book at all. I think that’s a really important thing. I’m trying to learn how to meditate. I’m a pretty serious yoga student and I found that’s pretty meditative. But the next level for me, it would be serious meditation, which I haven’t had the patience to do yet. But when I see how many of these folks are meditators, I realize that’s an important piece of the equation.

Joanna: I love what you said about moving to the next level and it’s often, and the meditation probably goes into it, is that it’s taking a step back and not ‘doing’ so much. This is something I struggle with very much. I’m a doer. I feel like my day is better if I have done more and ticked more stuff off my list. I love doing that.

I like having stuff there and yet I do achieve more if I have a more open calendar. So it’s weird. It’s like a paradox that if you have less to do but you know where you’re going with your bigger goals, you can get to that higher level of achievement instead of filling it with checking social media and doing this other thing and filling your time with busy work instead of important work.

Maybe the meditation side is stepping back and identifying what are the things that really, really move the needle instead of these tiny, little things.

Elaine: I think you’re right about that, Joanna. A number of them set aside a certain day during the week to work on things like research and development. And I think the meditation sets the stage for that or having some sort of clearness in their life that’s away from all the busy work is really important to that.

They are very strategic in their thinking about the business. A lot of times people in creative businesses are scrambling from one project to the next. It’s how do I get the next project and then how do I execute the next project and how do I juggle a new one that just came in on top of that.

If you’re always in that mindset, your business will not grow and you’ll never have a very peaceful business. It’ll always be a mad scramble and I think these folks have deliberately, for the most part, said no to that and decided to think more like entrepreneurs. Very big picture as you said.

They’ve put systems in place to make that happen like taking Friday off to do R&D. And writers can do research and development too with creative projects. It’s different when you’re doing fiction, because it’s an art than running an ecommerce business for instance, which is a totally commercial enterprise. But there are some similarities where maybe you’ll do something experimental on your Friday off from your normal stuff that you do, but you’ll never do that experimental stuff if you don’t allow yourself the time to do it.

Joanna: For many people listening, probably that experimental stuff is the writing and they’ve got a day job in there as their main source of money. But they might want to go further. So let’s look at that.

Going further into the models, you have a lot of different business types within the book, the different categories of these different businesses. And obviously you’ve mentioned socks and swag, which are physical products, but you also have the information or content creation model, which is definitely what I do.

What are some of the ways that authors can turn their words into more than just a book?

Elaine: There are so many different ways, Joanna. One great source of ideas is ClickBank, which is a marketplace for informational products. There are different things that people are releasing.

You could do a course. A lot of authors are very good teachers because the nature of the work they do. A lot of people that write fiction have jobs that are in things like marketing, journalism, other related fields where they’re using those writing skills and we’re explainers. So those explaining skills translate very well to creating a course on a platform like Teachable or Podia or one of the other ones.

[Note from Joanna: Check out my mini-course on How to Turn What You Know into an Online Course.]

You might have something that you know. It doesn’t have to be writing-related by the way. It could be knitting or fixing dishwashers or whatever you know how to do that you could turn into a course. And so you could create a community. I consider that part of informational content creation.

There are paid communities. You can create a mastermind group, as I said. I’m now a believer in them. Or it doesn’t have to be a mastermind, that you could do a one-time course. Sometimes, I’ve seen people now doing a lot of things on Zoom paid programs where you’re assembling people you’ve curated who have expertise in a certain subject matter and people pay a certain amount to subscribe to that event.

There are also other things that you can do. One of the things that was kind of interesting because you’re a podcaster, Jamie Jay is one of the entrepreneurs that I’ve added to the book. I’ve added more professional services businesses in the update and he runs a podcasting agency that does custom podcasts as well as hosting his own podcast.

What he did was he assembled a bunch of virtual assistants who have specialized skills in podcast-related things like one does graphic design to create all the little images and icons to promote a podcast. And then others know the technical stuff.

He’s not doing that work. He’s the one who runs the business and what he does is charge a flat fee for access to those services. So it’s more of a service business, but they’re also creating some informational products like the little icons and the social media posts and things like that.

There are hybrid approaches too. But what has enabled the business to grow was going from one-off projects to more of like a flat retainer fee for the clients and doing it well. He got a lot of positive reviews on the internet, which then brings in a lot of organic business without him having to be out there hustling it up, which can take a lot of time for entrepreneurs.

Speaking is another type of informational content creation. A lot of writers are good speakers.

I think there’s a myth that they’re so shy and reserved that they can’t speak. Whenever I hear writers, I think they’re great. They’re great communicators and they’re sincere. Sometimes I don’t like the model of the gung ho, chest-beating motivational speaker.

Joanna: I know what you mean.

Elaine: It’s so fake. Writers are so sincere and I think people like that genuineness. I would say don’t underrate yourself as a speaker. If you have written books or you’re a journalist or some other type of writer, a lot of people are aspiring writers and would love to hear from you. And you can charge for speaking.

It’s important to be aware of that because a lot of times people are so honored to speak, they never think to ask for a speaking fee. But many places have a budget for their speakers. Like if a university invites you to speak, they may have a budget. And if you don’t ask, they’re not going to mention it. But if you do ask, they’ll say, ‘Oh yes, well this is what we pay.’

So speak up for yourself because as a writer, you have bills too. Even if you love your work, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paid for it.

Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts by Joanna Penn. Second Edition. Audiobook narrated by the author.

Joanna: There’s some great tips there. And it is interesting you mentioned that about the speakers. I agree with you, man. I’m an introvert and many of my listeners are introverts. That doesn’t mean we’re shy.

But I agree that sometimes you can just be you. You can be a quiet type of person and still speak effectively because you’re serving an audience. And perhaps because you listen more than the gung ho motivational speaker, you can actually do a better job.

Elaine: I think so too. I do think that today’s speaker has to have a two-way conversation with the audience. And I think sometimes shy and introverted people are better listeners as you say, Joanna. And it’s a better experience for the audience than somebody putting on a show.

Sometimes we need a show. It’s fun walking on coals or something like that. But I think today people are used to more off the cuff speaking. They see it on social media videos, they see it on LinkedIn, other places like that. And they’re tired of the canned approach. So the genuine writer approach, I think has a lot of shelf life right now.

Joanna: I agree. And I think podcasting is that too. People are listening to our voices for 40 minutes and they know us more. And this is not polished. We’re just talking. So that’s good.

But I wonder about that because the reality is there’s a lot of books out there, there’s a lot of online businesses, a lot of speakers, a lot of everything.

How can we become a memorable brand so we can make good money this way?

Elaine: I think it has to do with really owning a small niche. All of us have some area that we geek out on where when we start talking, maybe our family starts going in the other room because we think about it so obsessively and they’re tired of hearing about it. But that’s usually your area where you have something interesting to say.

If you’re obsessed with something, that means you’re going to bring originality to it because you’re constantly turning it over in your head. And I think when you have that level of interest, you’re probably not unique. There probably are other people in the world that share it and would love to talk about it with you for the next six hours if they could also. And when you can identify that in yourself and I think every person has that, you’re onto something as far as a podcast topic.

For instance, in entrepreneurship, I’ve always written about entrepreneurship, spoke scalable businesses and one-person businesses. But one of my editors at ‘Forbes’, noticed I always seem more passionate writing about the one-person business. And I don’t know exactly why.

I think it was partly because it was relevant to me because I’m a mother with four children and I needed some way to run a business from home. And that was how I got interested in it. But I also felt like it was this huge neglected area in entrepreneurship reporting.

So many of the reporters in my field focus on who’s the next Facebook or whoever it is, exactly. But the vast majority of small businesses around the world are one-person businesses and they weren’t even really being considered businesses. There were a lot of business studies that didn’t even count them unless they had employees.

And I thought it was a tremendous oversight. And after years and years of reporting, I felt like I know this field as well as anybody who’s covering it because I’ve spent my whole adult life pretty much covering this at this point. And I think it’s neglected and I’m going to write about it and other people recognize I think that it wasn’t really being covered and they liked the feeling that their type of business was being counted. And I think that was how things coalesced around the book.

When I wrote articles about this topic for ‘Forbes’, they would go viral and it told me that this was a niche that was being untapped and that I could fill. And so I think there are, for every writer, there probably is something like that where you really know the subject well and you have a slightly different point of view than other people. I think that’s important too.

You don’t want to have the same view as everyone else on whatever your topic is because that means there is going to be so much competition and it will be hard to move the conversation forward. You want to look for an area where you can add something to the conversation based on your knowledge, your experience, your unique situation, whatever that might be. It might be that you’re located in a specific geographic area that gives you a new perspective, but the key is finding that difference.

Joanna: You’ve mentioned there about your own writing process. You’ve spent years writing about entrepreneurship and you’ve distilled this into the book and obviously you’ve just updated it for the paperback. But I know what happens with nonfiction and particularly with interviews, you end up with this massive material.

How did you turn a huge amount of research into a coherent, easy-to-read book?

Elaine: It’s funny, Joanna. I use the same methods that I use when I’m a ghostwriter or a writing coach and I remind myself that every book is really not about the author, it’s about the reader. And every book is a conversation with the reader.

So when I was making decisions about what to include and what not to include, I would always ask myself, what is the experience for the reader like? And with a book like this where I’m writing…there were more than 30 different types of businesses that I wrote about in the book, there are six main categories, but each business was different, so even if I was writing about…I think I wrote about five ecommerce businesses, each one of those runs differently.

I could have gone really into the weeds about how each one ran and that would have satisfied some readers who want to do exactly what that person did. But I also had to think about, I’m a storyteller, I want the book to be entertaining. I don’t want it to be like reading a textbook. And I want the reader to feel the stories, not just have a laundry list of steps to follow, put up a website, incorporate your business.

I had to make certain creative decisions about it that balanced those two things. And I think you know you’ve done a good job with that when some people are complaining about the decisions that you’ve made. I had one person post on Amazon that I should have had stuff about accounting in there, like how to balance your books and that sort of thing, but that wasn’t what the book was about.

Anybody can get an accounting textbook if you want to learn how to do your QuickBooks. This wasn’t going to be that book because I wanted to inspire people and let them know this is possible. These are real people just like you who have gotten to one million. Here are the basics of what they did. Knowing that in real-time it was changing.

When I updated it, so many things had changed with each person because technologies change, people’s life situation changes, the amount of time they can devote to the business changes, the market demand changes. So there’s not a static set of things that I can recommend that someone can just copy and achieve the same results with any business.

I know there are people selling systems like that, but I really don’t believe that they work after interviewing thousands of entrepreneurs over the years. Everything has to be a constantly evolving process. Just like writing fiction, someone teaches you everything that they did to write a great short story that wins the Pushcart Prize, you still can’t necessarily do it.

Joanna: Otherwise we’d all be winning them.

Elaine: Exactly. So you’ve gotta just go through the process and the process is what teaches you. And what works for you one time might not work another time. And people, I don’t think they like to think that there’s sort of magic to it all, but there is with everything moving in the right direction, the person having the right mindset at the right time, everything aligning.

But a lot of things in life are like that. At the same time, you can set the stage where it’s more likely to happen and that’s what this is about.

Joanna: I think it’s a brilliant book and as you say, it’s very easy to read. And actually that circles back to what we said at the top about maybe it’s what you leave out and the time you spend to step back and think about what people really need. And that’s what you did with the book. I can highly recommend The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business.

Elaine, where can people find you and the book and everything you do online?

Elaine: Joanna, they can find me on LinkedIn under my full name, Facebook under my full name, Twitter, full name, or I have a website, written out in words, or another website under my full name and they have a contact box on them.

I do write back, so if you have any questions and would like to reach out, I love getting letters from people who have heard me on podcasts or read the book and I’m happy to answer questions. Sometimes people need to troubleshoot a business idea and want to run it past me. I’m happy to do that no charge just because I feel like it makes me a better journalist, to understand what questions people have, and what concerns they have.

I just sold a new book called Tiny Business, Big Money to Norton. I’m looking at businesses at that slightly next stage where they have a very tiny crew, maybe a handful of contractors or even one or two employees and how that all works together. All people over a million dollars in revenue as well, but who have that additional people challenge.

I’m particularly interested at this moment in time in hearing from people who are wrestling with that. How do I find great contractors that I trust, or how do I manage my two people and create a culture when it’s just three of us. And that kind of thing really interests me. So please get in touch. I welcome any notes that you send.

Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Elaine. That was great.

Elaine: Well, thank you so much, Joanna. You ask great questions. It was a pleasure to talk with you and I’m so honored. You’ve been a podcaster for so long, you’re really one of the leaders in your field, and it’s really an honor to be here.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • May 17, 2020