Travels, Japan, and Book Progress Entrepreneurship / Personal / Volunteering

We spent the last week in Salt Lake City, visiting our family and friends who live there. It was great to see so many of our loved ones, and have a chance to talk with them in person. Thanks to everyone for your hospitality!

We arrived the day after a big snowstorm, so the kids enjoyed playing in the snow (in their dresses and flip flops), and we made a little snowman and had a short snowball fight without gloves. Snow is one thing the kids have really missed living in Costa Rica. It did look really beautiful on the mountains, and I was glad I didn’t have to drive in it.

Tragedy in Japan

While there, I heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My heart went out to those who are suffering, and I spent some time researching organizations to donate through, so I could feel like I was contributing in some way. I looked up several charities on and decided on Americares, which puts 99% of its revenue toward program expenses.

What I’d really like from a charity, though, is to be able to see how my money helped specific individuals. On such a grand scale, it’s probably difficult to do this, but is the closest thing I have found, and I donate to them ocassionally. Unfortunately, they’re not setup to take donations for Japan at the moment, so I went with Americares this time.

A few people have asked me if this earthquake will deter us from traveling there later this or next year. My answer is absolutely not! First of all, we never really planned to go up north to the affected areas. But second, I believe that Japan will recover very quickly from this disaster. If any country is prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis, and knows how to handle itself in a crisis, it’s Japan.

Progress on my book

Since my business was highlighted by Tim Ferriss on his popular blog, I’ve received over a dozen e-mails from people who are thinking about or are in the process of creating their own businesses. It’s been fun hearing their stories and answering their questions. And it’s made me realize that there are a lot of people out there who are trying to do what I have done, and who want some guidance. There are also a lot of people who are considering creating a business, but have no idea where to even start.

Of course, it sounds like a dream to some that you could earn over $25,000/month working just 5 hours per week, but I really do. In fact, I expect to be making about double that by the end of this year, with no increase in my work hours. But please understand – it has taken a HUGE amount of work to get to this point, over a period of about 5 years. I also believe that it’s possible for anyone to create a successful business if they’re willing to put forth the effort and go about it in a smart way.

There’s a rumor going around that 90% of businesses fail, or only 10% succeed. I have made three attempts at creating businesses, and have succeeded at all three – a 100% success rate. My advice is, ignore statistics and don’t follow the 90% who are doing it wrong.

As you may know, I’ve been working on a book about how to create a self-sustaining on-line business. It’s been a slow process, and I’ve stopped and started a few times, wondering if the world really needs another business book. But with the encouragement I’ve received, I realize that I do have something unique to offer, even if it’s just sharing my experience in how I created my business and lifestyle, and what I’ve learned in the process.

So I’m picking up the pace again with my book. I think I’m about 70% finished with my first major draft. I can’t really tell at this point exactly when I’ll be done, and I have no idea how long the editing process will take, but I hope to have it completely finished and available by the end of this year (2011).

Your Questions Answered – I Need Your Help

In the book, I’m trying to write about the topics that would have helped me the most as I created my business, and I want to make sure I cover the most common questions of new entrepreneurs. However, since I’m only one person, and everyone is starting from a different place, I need some help knowing what those questions are.

So far, I’m planning to address issues like how to come up with an idea, how to know if your idea is a good one, how to outsource effectively, how to get the word out about your product, how to structure your business legally, and more, including some chapters on finance and productivity. But I want to make sure I don’t forget anything important, or leave out little details that would make a big difference to someone.

So, if you are thinking about starting a business, or are interested in reading my book, I would really appreciate it if you’d take a minute to post in the comments below (or send me an e-mail), telling me what questions or issues you’d like the book to address. I want this book to be as thorough as it can be, so it can help as many people as possible. Thanks in advance for taking the time to help with your feedback.

Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in each moment.


  1. Hi Brandon,

    You could try reading these two useful books, aimed at a similar market, and concentrate on anything you think they have not addressed:

    • Thanks Andy. I haven’t seen either of these books. They look good, although they are more addressed to people who are already programmers. I plan to make my book useful for those with no programming or business experience. That said, a lot of the content may overlap, so I’ll definitely take a look at these.

  2. It was so much fun to visit with so many friends and family in Utah. I am so grateful for everyone who was able to make time for us while we were there. Thank you! We thoroughly enjoyed our time with every single one of you!!

    I am so glad for good charities to donate to who are really committed to making a difference in the world and truly helping those in need. I am also very grateful for you and for your generous support to those kinds of organizations.

    From what you’ve shared with me in your book so far, it is excellent, and I know it will help people who want to do something similar. I would love for you to make an audio book version as well. :)

  3. Hey man, great post.

    I definitely align with that everyone knows something that other people can benefit from. A guy like you, you have some incredibly precise knowledge that can help millions of entrepreneurs.

    I think that outlining some of the physical strategies is going to be great for people who read your book but arguably more important is what you do inside of your head.

    Great post, discovered your blog through Ferriss’s blog, awesome stuff!


  4. I’d love your insight about marketing. What we’re struggling with right now is trying to decide how much of our budget to spend on attending trade shows versus focusing more on SEO optimization, social media, etc…Where’s the best bang for your buck?

    Also, information about market research would be great too. I think its when people don’t ask the right questions to the right people up front that businesses falter. How do you make sure there’s actually a need, as opposed to an assumed need? What other ways besides internet research would you suggest?

    I’m sure that if the book is written in the same style as your blog, it will be a great success!

  5. SailorMats Says: March 20, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    The problem i have with starting something own from scratch is to free up time and energy to start and then continue working. This is hard since you have to work on your main jobb (9-5 maybe). Often you start on your own alone and have to push yourself and it is easy to doubt if it will succeed in the end.
    I think too that many aren’t aware of all the work that is necessary to succeed. As you said:

    “it has taken a HUGE amount of work to get to this point, over a period of about 5 years.”

    Many of this “start your own business” books makes it sound so easy and effortless, but i think its not and would like you to address this in your book.

    When I think of it I would appriciate a webapplication or something that helps you “make things done”. It could be a login webpage where you fill in all the steps needed to be taken in a timeline, businessplan. Then someone calls or emails / sms you and ask if it’s done or not for each step. If not done makes you set a new time or just move to next step. Not a coach or teacher but someone just pushing you to keep up. This help can be outsourched easy since it doesn’t involve teaching or helping you make decision, that you do best yourself.
    Well, that is my “whish list” or thoughts about what help i would like to when it comes to starting my own.

    Anyway i will definitly get your book when ready.

    Thank you for all good info and personal stories on your blog, appriciate them.

  6. I want to make even $10,000 a month working 5 hours a week. :-)

    My first problem is I feel I have absolutely nothing worthwhile to offer. The skills and experience Craig & I have both had have been in the area of personal face to face service type things – the idea we could create some business that expands beyond that is exciting, though unattainable. We’d be those people who have tons of questions and need lots of encouraging information. I’ll talk to Craig and send you and email.

  7. Aunt Kathy Says: March 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

    It was so wonderful to see all of you last week. I do love each of you and I’m glad you are in my life. I’m very proud of you Brandon, I admire your courage to go ahead and make your dream a reality, you have an amazing wife and the fact that she supports and encourages you is such an advantage. What super experiences you are providing for Emily and Marie. I am reminded of a Samuel Johnson quote that had an impact on my life in England over forty years ago, “Nothing would ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome” Just serves to remind me that there is never a perfect time to do something, just perhaps a better time.

  8. I totally work from a different side of the brain. I have nothing to offer. We’re going to stick with franchising. Let someone else do the research. As far as your book? I have a hard time doing paragraphs, let alone a table of contents. I was hoping that’s what editors are for?

  9. This book is an awesome idea and will bless many lives.

    I have had a brilliant idea. I think your mother should be a case study for you. Special hands on support and instruction from beginning to end… just because she’s your mom. And she helped you solve your customer service dilemma. And she’s awesome. And you love her.

    Plus, her own financial success and time freedom will allow her to visit her lovely granddaughters at least once a year in whatever country they may be living in around the globe, and make it far less likely you’ll have to help support her in her old age… :)

    See? Brilliant!

    (BTW – thank you so much for the wonderful birthday gift… I’m so excited to come visit you again!)

    @Paul – don’t worry… your memoir won’t need a table of contents. Just keep working on those paragraphs – which an editor can help you with as well.

  10. Brandon,
    Good to hear you are working on a book. The little I know about you is enough to make me want to be one of the first ones to get it. Be sure to cover business models. in 2006 I built a web application (site) for managing family/co-worker weight loss competitions. I built the site for personal use because I was learning php at the time. I was in Utah and wanted to compete with family in Arizona and California and it provided an automated way for tracking weekly weight loss percentages as a group.

    Fast forward almost 5 years and the site has like 6000 users and I make a little more than enough to pay for hosting and domain. Obviously the site has some value. I like how you right from the start focused on creating something people would pay for. I’m at a point where I think I could improve the site and add some features that gyms, personal trainers, businesses and some individuals might pay for. I have already dedicated a lot of time to creating the site. Redoing the site in 2009 and supporting the site.

    I would love some direction on the effort it took you to market and sell to music instructors. Did you get input from other instructors while you developed the product?

    • Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, I think getting feedback from music teachers about what they wanted the program to do was critical to the success of the business. Music Teacher’s Helper is so different now from when it started because of all the ways its grown and changed based on user feedback. I will definitely cover this in the book, and also business models, marketing, and how to profit without spending all your time maintaining the site. Thanks again for your feedback.

  11. I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback here and through e-mail. Thanks everybody. Based on what I’ve been hearing, I’m leaning toward narrowing the focus of my book slightly, to what I know best – how to create a subscription-based web application.

    A lot of what I’ll teach in the book applies to other types of businesses as well, but I plan to give some extra attention to the subscription-based business model, including aspects like hiring a programmer (or learning it yourself), dealing with design and designers, etc. And I’ll try to make the book as practical as I can. It seems that most people want step by step action items and hand holding – not just theory. I’ll do my best not to disappoint. :)

    If you have further questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks again!

  12. i want to go to japan it seems soo cool. You made a lot of posts.

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