My name is Barbara Winter and I started my first business on a card table in my TV room on the day my daughter went off to kindergarten. She’s now 44 years old so you can see that I’ve been working independently since it wasn’t fashionable. I had no idea when I began that I was pioneering a new phenomenon that was going to grow into what I call the Quiet Revolution.
My vision was rather simple, but not small, right from the start. I loved teaching and I had become a passionate student of personal growth and development. My original idea was to create seminars for women to share what I had learned. At that time, all the material on topics like goal-setting and attitude awareness was written by men, for men. I wanted to put it into a context for women. After a couple of years, I became convinced that many women would be happier and more successful if they opted to work for themselves.
In the late eighties, I launched a little program that I thought would attract only a few bold folks called Making a Living Without a Job. It turned out to be the core of all my work which now involves teaching seminars and writing. My book of the same title had its twentieth anniversary this year (am still astonished about that) and I publish the longest-running self-employment newsletter, Winning Ways, now in its twenty-seventh year. I also am a regular contributor to Incomes Abroad, a new publication for expat entrepreneurs and to TheSelfEmployed.com.
Right from the start, I knew I didn’t want to have employees (after all, I am famously anti-job) so the writing part of my business is quite solitary. Then I balance that out by spending time in seminar rooms and retreat centers surrounded by people who are determined to find a better way to make their living.
Retirement is not in my vocabulary or plans. I would love to continue creating and sharing ideas as long as I possibly can.
This series of interviews is designed to inspire others, mainly women, on the same path. What tips would you share with them which would short-cut their journey to happiness being their own boss?
It’s really important to connect with others who are joyfully jobless, not just self-employed. Collaborating on projects can also be great fun, if you have the right partners.
It’s also valuable—both personally and for the growth of your business— to be an enthusiastic lifelong learner.
Remember, too, that the business you start out with isn’t the business you end up with. Businesses grow, evolve and change—as do you.
What did you struggle with most in your start-up phase, and how did you resolve that?
I was sometimes stumped at how to get the word out about my radical business. However, I had read a book that was hugely inspiring about two women who had started a business in New York and they got lots of free publicity, so I did the same. At first, I feared that a lack of academic credentials might be an obstacle, even though I had total confidence in the things I was teaching because I’d tested them in my own life. I made a commitment to myself that I would never teach what I hadn’t learned and I’ve stuck with that.
I tell people that self-employment is the best personal growth seminar ever invented. I learn new things about myself all the time. I also have acquired tools that help me change things when necessary.
Did you choose self-employment or did it choose you? Any regrets?
I believe I chose self-employment and can’t imagine not working for myself.
What one encouraging thought sums it all up?
Self-employment is the place we come to do more, have more and be more. It’s the most accessible way I know to enrich your life.
Do you feel lonely and isolated when working for yourself and, if so, what do you do about that?
Of course, there have been moments of loneliness, but I try to schedule my work so there’s a mix of activity. I’m not sure I’m totally an extrovert, but I thrive on the company of positive, creative people—including my grandchildren. I’ve had seminar participants who have started meet-up groups or joined with others on a regular basis to brainstorm. It’s an on-going exercise to connect with others.
What’s the best way for us to find out more about you and your work, Barbara?
There’s Making a Living Without a Job, my book that has been called a classic. My newsletter, Winning Ways, comes out six times a year and is loaded with both inspiration and information. You can order that from joyfullyjobless.com/winning-ways. You can also find my Buon Viaggio blog at my site.
From time to time, I do teleclasses, which have been very popular. The best way to keep up with what I’ve got going on is to get on my mailing list. You can sign up for my Joyfully Jobless News. That’s also where you see my upcoming seminars, such as the one I’ll be doing next May 17 in London.