The Ultimate Resource Guide for Starting a Biz To Fund Your Freedom (Even If You Don’t Know Shit About Business)

by Alexander Heyne · 11 comments

 Self employment to me is all about freedom.

And I think that’s why self employment, entrepreneurship and “location independence” are becoming such big buzzwords these days.

They’re buzzwords for 20 somethings that don’t know specifically what we want to do: but we know one thing — we want to do everything.

90% of the people my age I talk to say one of two things (regarding aspirations):

  1. If I had the resources/time/freedom I’d travel the world.
  2. I just want to quit my job and get away from here, and just do anything – do the stuff that most people only talk about.

Self-employment, done right, can give you both of those.  It gives you the resources to do what you want, when you want, and where you want.

If you want more money, you can scale it up. If you want more freedom, you can adjust for more free time.

Self employment is also my big hairy goal for 2012: Even if I’m living at the poverty level, I want to be self employed doing something important.

I’m making logical financial adjustments (like moving back to a second-world country), but I’m also jumping and building my wings on the way down.

My guess is that like a lot of people, you probably want to be telling a story like this:

“I’ve got a little side business that funds my travels & adventures and pretty much permits me to do whatever I want, whenever I want.”

However, you have no freaking clue what’s next.  Maybe you majored in a science like me, or maybe you studied business.  But I’m assuming that most people don’t have a clue where to start and have zero real world experience.

The following is not a “guide” to building a successful side business. It’s just a neatly-sorted mass of ridiculously useful resources for those of you that have the itch to build a side hustle but don’t know where to start.

It’s the information foundation and the inspiration to take the first enormous step.

It all begins with the itch for a change

Alright I get it, you probably are tired of your boss, tired of your job, or just tired of your life.

You feel like you’re stuck in the endless cycle of working just to pay your bills, and at the end you don’t have much left over.

You’re beginning to feel like life is a little bit pointless and that if this is your one shot, why are you working just to pay the bills?

It’s even worse if you’re a recent college grad — you go from living somewhere under your parents’ wing, to suddenly moving out and paying all your own bills, working a job where you might be doing grunt work, and ending up with very little left over for yourself financially.

Remedy? Drink copious quantities of alcohol from Thursday-Sunday.

In all honesty, one day you need to decide that you want to change how your life is panning out and what story you’re telling.

If you want the motivation to psychologically decide it’s time for a change, I’m going to piss you off by showing you multiple “I Quit My Job” Posts:

  1. Caleb over at Pocketchanged: I Quit my Job
  2. Leo over at Zenhabits: So I Quit My Day Job
  3. Therese over at The Unlost: Confessions of a Freakishly Nerdy Blogger: Why I’m Leaving my Job, My House, and My Life as I Know It
  4. Sean over at Location 180: My Last Day
The bottom line about “getting the itch” is that you have to make up your mind about making up your mind.
You need to say (and believe): it’s time.


#1 It all starts with an idea..

… But don’t think the quality of your success depends on your idea.

 Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ve got a million dollar idea because you’ll neglect the facts that many entrepreneurs state — it’s all about a good plan with constant execution & testing, more than just the next great idea.

So how do you come up with your idea? Do I provide a product or a service?  Do I go the brick and mortar route or just go into internet marketing, blogging, or teach some kind of class?

What is the biggest barrier behind you starting your own business?

The above responses are from a survey that Rami Sethi sent out to his readers, where more than 1,000 responded.

And they sound pretty damn accurate to me — it’s just like asking people “what’s your passion” or “what are you really really interested in?” The vast majority can’t give quite a clear answer.

So how exactly do you figure out what kind of work to do? 

#1 Renaissance Business by Emilie over at has dozens of exercises to help you figure out how to unite multiple interests into trends and eventually income streams.

If you’re like me, with varied interests that appear to be all over the place, you’re probably lost and want to figure out how you can capitalize (read: make money from) your interests, but you can’t quit settle on one.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to pick one.

I would suggest checking out her product because it’ll really set your brain on fire with potential business ideas, and plenty of “Aha” moments.

It’s also on my recommended products page if you want to read my review.

#2 Scott over at Live Your Legend has a free “Find Your Passion” Workbook that helps detail and hone in on certain aspects of the stuff you love to help you start getting it done. has a big section of business ideas and even includes things like startup cost, location independence, potential to work online, etc.

#3 Analyze business prospects at the business idea section of

#4 Case Studies:  (See below)


 #2 Case studies = inspirational + “it’s possible”

Case studies are probably the single most valuable thing people who haven’t done “it” yet can read.

At the very basic level, case studies remind you that other people have done it, and that it’s possible.

They also give you potential ideas, since many entrepreneurial ventures were started as slight spin offs of an already existing product or service.

From Tim Ferris at the 4HWW Blog:

  1. Successful Cash-Flow Muses Part 1 (4+ Examples)
  2. Successful Cash-Flow Muses Part 2
  3. Engineering a Successful Muse Part 3
  4. Successful Muse Case Studies Part 4 
  5. How to make $1,000,000 per Month With Digital Products
From JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly:

#3 The Best Business Books in Existence

Reading — done right — can save you thousands of lost hours and lost dollars.

Reading — done wrong — can serve as “more knowledge” that you conveniently pack away and never use.

In any case, reading is one of the best ways to learn from the mistakes of others, and business is no exception.

This list not only includes business books that are my favorites, but other booklists that are definitely worthwhile to check out.

The E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It

 Get it because:

  • Most of us fall into 1 of 3 categories: the mechanic, the manager, or the entrepreneur. An incredibly capable and successful person will possess all three qualities. He goes into a ton of detail as to why just having 1 or 2 of the above qualities means you’re doomed to fail.





Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not

 Get it because:

  •  I haven’t seen anything close to a system to successfully make you wealthy. I’m a scientist. I like systems. Robert Kiyosaki pretty much has a formula that is the basis for poverty or wealth — which is strong point #1.
  • Strong point #2 is that he constantly compares the story of two parents – his rich dad who encouraged him to be a risk taker and have money work for him, and his poor dad, who told him to take the safe route, the job with benefits, etc.  Many of us can easily relate.

Think and Grow Rich

 Get it because:

  • This book is inspiration on steroids
  • It has tons of quotes & citations previously ultra-successful stories





Spin Selling

Get it because:

  • People usually describe it as “the only book on sales you’ll ever need to read.” ‘Nuff said.






The Millionaire Fastlane

 Get it because:

  •  Inspiration and incredible useful.
  • Front cover review, “You’ll learn more in 2 days from this book than you will in 2 years of business college courses, and it’s 1/100th of the price!”




The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business

 Get it because:

  • The Amazon description: “Getting an MBA is an expensive choice-one almost impossible to justify regardless of the state of the economy. Even the elite schools like Harvard and Wharton offer outdated, assembly-line programs that teach you more about PowerPoint presentations and unnecessary financial models than what it takes to run a real business. You can get better results (and save hundreds of thousands of dollars) by skipping B-school altogether. “


I Will Teach You To be Rich

Get it because:

  • Best personal finance book I’ve read.
  • Best resource I’ve come across for automating your financial life and never worrying about overspending. Get it.






Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling 

Get it because:

            • I can’t even describe how good this is.  Don’t believe me? This saying pretty much is the undercurrent to the book, which is also the foundation of brilliant branding: “Long after people forget what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”


Other Book Lists And Recommended Reading

#4 If you are remotely considering making a blog or online-based business, read this.

Alright.  Most of the old school business principles about marketing and getting clients work similarly online.  You have content, your product, you need to get the word out, marketing, you need to make connections online and help other people, that’s networking.

And like making an old school brick and mortar business, there is no guarantee that working hard will produce any measure of success. That’s the hard truth.

A while ago Jon Morrows sent over a link to a post he must plug a lot, seeing as it has ~5,500 tweets and a bazillion comments.

It’s really damn good though, and aside from being a little bit of inspiration on steroids, it highlights pretty much the most important part of business:

I stopped worrying about myself at all and started a business based on one simple idea:

Helping people.

I found up-and-coming writers who wanted a mentor, and I trained them. I found businesses who wanted to cash in on social media, and I developed their strategy. I found bloggers who wanted more traffic, and I created a course on how to get it.

In exchange, they paid me what they could. Some folks gave me $50 an hour and others $300 an hour, but I treated them all the same, and I dedicated myself to making their dreams a reality.

The results?

Within two months, I was making so much money so fast PayPal shut down my account under suspicions of fraudulent activity. Today, not only am I making more than enough to take care of myself, but a couple of months ago, I got uppity and bought my father a car.

Do you understand how precious that is? For a guy who can’t move from the neck down to buy his father a car?

And the best part is, I’m not making money doing mindless drudgery. I’m changing people’s lives.

-From Jon Morrow’s post at Problogger: How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise, and Get Paid to Change the World

In case you want to start any business, remember the good advice from above.  I’ve messed up a lot of things and have progressed much slower than I could have because I forgot that simple advice.

Other Upcoming Goodies: My Own Case Studies & Best Failures

In the past year I’ve tried a bunch of random little entrepreneurial ventures — some have sucked, some are still going on, some were brief thoughtgasms (dunno what that means but it sounds like a quick passing thought).

And I know that a lot of people are looking to get their own side business going right?

You probably read the 4 hour work week and are thinking :“Shit, why can’t I have a nice little side business that funds all my unlimited travels and adventures?”  And you probably started for a week or two and then quit.

In any case, starting in a few weeks I’m going to start documenting my attempts at muse creation: successes, failures, and everything inbetween. If I end up with a successful side hustle, it’ll be here documented every step of the way.

If I fail big, that’ll also be here — it’s pretty much my vain attempt at accountability.  And hopefully, when things work out (just keep swimming, just keep swimming…) people who have been wanting to figure out how to start can read the past posts and get started!

And of course, I’m going to first write about my biggest duff-ups, in other words: tons of hours put in that showed nothing in return except for some “words of wisdom.”


Stay tuned for part 2 in the future  —-

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Therese March 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Can’t wait to hear about your side hustles! Woohoo, you go! (Now get ‘em started! ;-)


afheyne March 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Haha thanks therese!

How are things going? I recently read that you are getting read to quit pretty soon, in April right? SOunds exciting as hell!! I realize you don’t have a day by day agenda, but what are some of the things you are hoping to get started on?


Jeffrey March 15, 2012 at 9:39 am

Great post to help people get started! I’m totally on board with many of your choices for books or posts. Looking forward to part 2!


afheyne March 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Jeffrey —

Yeah man, I always wished that somebody would document their “muse” creation as they went, like Pat Flynn with smart passive income.

And so many of my friends want that financial freedom to let them do what they want — I think they should get started ASAP.

And you are also taking off pretty soon right? About 2 months and you’re quitting? Damn you and Therese both are in for some epic adventures,I’m jealous haha. Keep us posted on how those go, esp. your side hustle SEO business. P.S. Did you specifically do any training /research for it, or do your services mostly revolve around the skills you learned blogging?


Brasilicana March 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

“In any case, starting in a few weeks I’m going to start documenting my attempts at muse creation: successes, failures, and everything inbetween.”

I’m really, really looking forward to this. Why? Because all the other case studies I’ve read come from people who have already “made it.” But when you succeed and you look back on the process, you have a substantially different view than when you’re actually in the middle of it, struggling with doubt, trying to make decisions, etc.

Usually the challenges in the “looking back on a successful endeavor” case studies get sorta glossed over – like “After a year of hard work on my blog, it was making $2,000 a month!” The hard part is skipped over and the success is emphasized. What you don’t see is posts from the guy or gal who is up at 3 AM writing blog posts or developing a product, and wondering if the time investment is ever going to pay off.

BTW, where are you moving? Back to China, or off to someplace new?


afheyne March 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm


Yeah! That’s exactly what I’m aiming for.

Like you said all the other case studies are always like “after working hard at this for X amount of time I was making enough to live on my own!” Totally making it impossible to get any value from the article except inspiration.

I’m with you on that 100%, the successful people just seem to go Start ==> hard work ==> Succcess. In reality it’s more like Start ==> diversion ==> Diversion ==> Diversion ==> Failures (10,15,50,100) ==> Some degree of success.

It’s way messier in reality.

Re: my move — my #1 is still China. I have friends and connections there in the big cities. I don’t know many people in the USA these days, my friends are all over the place, so I kind of wanna make a new life somewhere for a little bit.

I’m also thinking of New York (I live close, but not in the city), Barcelona, and San Francisco. We’ll see haha.

I feel like location independence is more of a curse actually.. Too many options and it leaves me more “lost” than “found” haha. Hindsight is 20/20…


Brasilicana March 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm

You know what I’d love to see? Maybe this already exists, but… a forum or something where aspiring online bloggers/entrepreneurs could post their sites and exchange comments, critiques, and recommendations. Folks who can’t yet afford to hire someone to do a professional review, but could maybe benefit from some peer feedback, whether on the site design or the business model or whatever. I’d gladly participate in a community like that, and if I do end up “making it,” I’d gladly continue to participate so that I could try to help others.

TheRewardsTraveler March 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm

The funny thing about being self-employed is that depending on the business you’re in it could actually end up restricting your freedom more then when you were employed. When I used to teach martial arts, if I didn’t show up to teach I had a possibility of losing students. I had to show up even if I knew only one student was going to show. Kiyosaki talks about this when he puts people in the different quadrants, E (Employed), S (Self-employed), B (Business Person), I (Investor). The ultimate goal for aspiring S people is to get into the B and I categories. That’s really where you get some true freedom.

I think the “helping people” thing has to truly be genuine. A lot of MLM companies pitch people on the idea that they’re not selling a product they’re helping people. Ya right! Most people can see right through that one. Now can helping people and selling them a product overlap? Sure! But I think it comes down to the individual and their personal desire to really care about giving their customer a good product based on the customer’s needs and not their desire just to make a buck.

Can’t wait to see your progress, failures, and especially successes!


afheyne March 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm

TOTALLY agree on this.

I was just pondering the possibility that once I’m finally self employed I may realize “Shit, well I have a long way to go still, it didn’t solve much!”

I think like you scale it’s a scale, being an employee is the lowest level (that most of us stay at), being self-employed is just one step up but by no means a panacea.

Ultimately I’d like to just set up the system and have other people work it – I mean, I think that’s how “self-employment” done right should go. You own the coffee shop, employees run it. You make money and oversee it with low involvement. It’s the exact opposite of what my dad was doing when he owned several successful restaurants — he was making tons of money, but also putting in 100+ hours a week. 5 am open, get home at 10 pm, 7 days a week. It’s just as bad as employee slavery even though you run the show.

And yeah that help other people thing is something I overlooked – you can “act” like you’re helping people and still really be out to take people’s money. See a lot of affiliate products that people promote here – as soon as it comes out they write reviews but haven’t even used it yet! I personally can’t sleep at night doing stuff like that, so I don’t. But as long as you genuinely genuinely want to help people get what they want, I think people pick up on that genuine-ness, especially if it’s in-person.


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