This often comes as a bit of a surprise to many people. Many people find it unrealistic. 90% of the education that you need is out there for free.
Don't Believe Me?
I'll show you 12 sources of training for your success that will not cost you a single dime! And as I'm writing this, I'll probably think of 5 more.
First of all, you have to understand that the biggest source of information you'll ever have is surrounding you constantly! It's life. It's right in front of you. You see people buy things, you watch the ones you love pick one product over another, you even make decisions yourself on a daily basis. Start paying attention to them.
Secondly, they won't cost you a dime but all of them will require some time and, more likely than not, effort. Too many people don't want to hear this. It's disgusting, actually, when you realize that most people don't want to hear this. Let me be the gazillienth person (at risk of sounding like my niece) in your life to tell you this. ...and hopefully the loudest.
Nothing in this life is Absolutely Free!
Nope, nada, nilch, zero. I don't care; don't argue with me. (not even love) You can send me an email if you disagree, and I'll prove you wrong. Everything cost you something in one way or another. And if it didn't cost you money, it probably cost you twice as much in some other form of payment. (the so-called, "sweat equity.")
Alright, I feel better.
Although nothing in life is free, there are lots of things that don't cost money. And there are lots of things in life that can help you with your business that don't cost money. We are officially living in the age of information so lets get started with taking matters into our own hands.
Take charge of your future. Get your business rolling. Learn everything that you can about grabbing your own success.
Finding your Abundance.
One last thing before we begin, think back to a time in history when many people took the occupation of their family name (i.e. Baker, Smith, Carpenter, Shoemaker) and realize that it really wasn't so long ago. If you remind yourself of that, it's not really hard to grasp the concept of everyone owning their own business; a concept of abundance. Find your mentality of abundance and your rivers will run over. If you think and know that it's out there, you'll start to notice it.
Let's point these out.
Resource #1: Book Stores. (Borders, Barnes & Nobles, corner stores, and libraries)
But, Chad, those aren't free!
You see where you went with that? You're thinking scarcity already and we just covered the fact that you have to think in abundance. Have you ever been kicked out of a book store for reading too long? I didn't think so. They even offer chairs and benches to help you out with that endeavor!
Many times, I've been in a Borders and buried myself inside a deep cushy arm-chair and devoured knowledge like it was a Thanksgiving feast! When I was younger I even used to skip school in New Orleans and drive to the gigantic bookstore on Veterans Blvd because I found their environment a more comfortable place to learn and digest.
Book Stores have taught me about wine, cigars, beer, home brewing (some education I was getting, I know!), Spanish Grammar, Roman History, Western Civilization, Philosophy, Sex, Marcus Aurelius (think roman times), Impressionist Art, World Religions, Aviation, Engineering, Golf, Football, Poetry, Psychology, Sign Language, Body Language, Java Script, HTML, XHTML, CSS, Public Speaking, Marketing, Google Adwords, Negotiating, and on, and on, and on. I could make this entire article a list of the things that I've learned from spending time in book stores and reading.
My favorite stop in airports? Bookstore. My favorite place to get coffee? Bookstore. My favorite place to relax in a new town? Bookstore.
I grew up a really poor kid. Do I wear it as a badge of honor? Nope. But I do point it out to make it clear that I knew how hard it was to make a buck and how easy it was spent, I knew what it was to work, and I knew what it was to go into an establishment and not be able to buy what I wanted. I also learned that I could save up for them and get use out of them while I was waiting.
Did I buy every book that I've read in the store? No, but I have bought many of them and turned back to them time and time again. One thing I've learned from my free educations is how truly valuable the paid ones are! Every dollar that I've invested in my own knowledge has come back around and paid for itself ten fold in one way or another.
Resource #2: Business Sections in the Newspaper (or Money Section)
Again, I hear people whining out there, saying it's not free. Well for one, if you pay for it (and if!) the paper usually cost 50 cents. How most people run into the paper, though, is in restaurants, coffee shops, diners, or co-workers who are finished reading them. Pick it up (ask; if it was someone's) take a quick second to see what Paris Hilton or Britney Spears did to somehow make front page (baffling!) and then skip to the business section (usually green).
Inside the business papers you learn a vocabulary that is it's own language. You learn about economics, acquisitions, markets, government rules and regulations (and how that effects business owners), scandals (and ideas on avoiding them), great accomplishments, creative thinking, savvy deal making, and a lot of other boring things that you will find absolutely fascinating if you're learning about starting your business life!
The business pages are a great way to instantly immerse yourself in a business world and start picking things up today.
Resource #3: CNBC
Yes, ticker and overly excited anchors, and all. Your mind is an ever absorbing sponge! Constantly forming your self-opinion and internal image based on the things you're surrounded by and feedback you get. Are you filling it with King of Queens, Simpson's, Grey's Anatomy, or numbers and concepts about money-smarts, financial literacy, business workings, politics that will affect you as a successful business person?
I can't watch The Simpson's?
I'm not ruling anything out for you, here. I'm just pointing out that you become, in general, what you let influence you most of your time. Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, The Simpson's, and most every sitcom family, live lives of scarcity. They're not poor, but they are not showing you the life that you want to have. They might show 75% of the people the life that they do have (comfortable middle-class), but they are not showing you what you could be. They are anti-abundance. They hype the "American Dream" that is running the middle class into deep consumer debt and increasing the disparity between Rich and Poor.
It's just not good. ...like too much soda.
CNBC pumps, 24 hours a day, concepts of abundance. They show people making money when markets are up, and people making money when markets are down. They show international ventures, and local home-town successes.
Resource #4: Infomercials.
What?! I know. Some of you don't understand why on earth I would list the late night garbage that dances in your head. But that's exactly why. It dances in your head. It goes on loop-back and you often think about it the next day.
You ever had trouble sleeping and thought that turning on the TV would help you out. So you click around, you're in the low channels, and BAM, something catches your eye. Maybe it's a tall guy with a funny accent pushing around a swiffer-jet, or a hyped up looking little guy with jet black hair telling you how you're going to make your fortunes in real estate, or Chuck Norris showing you how to get buff. Regardless, I bet you didn't go to sleep for at least an hour and a half. And I bet you were watching the same infomercial the whole time.
How did they do that?
It's your job to figure that out. Watch how they walk, how they talk. Watch the energy in their eyes, watch how the co-host nods just when he or she needs to. Watch the intervals that they interrupt you at and offer the number to opt in. Watch the color of the props in their videos (you ever wonder why the entire Marketing & Sales section in the bookstore seems red?), watch the environment they're in (what senses or emotions of yours is it calling to?)
Look at everything that is going on and ask yourself why you haven't changed the channel yet! When you answer those questions for yourself, you've handed yourself your very own set of keys to marketing and sales.
Resource #5: The Small Business Administration. SBA.gov.
Wow. A great website! The Small Business Administration has been one of the most valuable resources I've run across for starting business owners. They'll give you pointers on how to write a business plan, how to find lawyers and accountants, what you'll need them for, who to take tax questions to, what zones you can do what in, papers that you need to have in order, check lists to starting up, and they'll even arrange for you to go to a free seminar in your area. The Small Business Administration is a must for anyone starting out in business!
Resource #6: Introductory Product Packages.
Free, free, free! Eben Pagan, from Double You Dating, describes this as moving the "free line." Giving away as much valuable information as you can stand to give to your customers before they have spent a penny! There has never been a better time to be a learning entrepreneur than this very age; the information age. The world wide web has given way to the whims of the consumer and now it's absolutely necessary that you give information away for free to even be considered by today's customer.
Mike Dillard has an incredible 10-day boot camp that's a free introduction to the intricacies of what he calls magnetic marketing. It's priceless insight to Network Marketing, as well as what it takes to succeed. I consider the course my most important tool and it's completely free; a great example of the secrets you need right at your fingertips.
Others are following suit. People run blogs that are free and a valuable resources. There are trial memberships, communities and message boards (great for questions -- try Rich Dad's community), newsletters, ezines, and mailing lists, alike, that are all dumping loads of free information out there, waiting for you to scoop it up!
Resource #7: Initial Professional Consultations.
This resource is huge! It's huge and powerful. It's so powerful that manny beginning business owners are scared to use it. These are consultations with lawyers and accountants.
Why are people scared of this?
They shouldn't be. These are professional, bonafied, service providers that (if they're worth their salt!) have probably already heard every question that you could possibly have and, even better, have answers for them. They talk to you. It's actually in their job description, if you ask them. They sit down with you, bend their ear, ask you about your personal situation, and they provide solutions for problems that you're having.
How do I find one?
I first consulted a lawyer when I wondered whether I should incorporate myself or start an LLC. About 10 years ago, my Dad quit his j-o-b and ventured out with his own business. The first thing I did was shoot him an email and ask him how he found his lawyer. I also talked to a friend of mine who had a lawyer on retainer for his start-up production company.
My Dad responded with a link to a website that listed local lawyers from your area. (There are thousands of similar sites! Just plug in "USA Lawyers" in your favorite search engine.) The site let me view lawyers by specialty, sort by area, and even sort by those offering free initial consultations or not. (you want this.)
One of your goals as a business owner should be to make enough profit to be able to hire the services of good lawyers, and to hire them often. Maybe even to have a few on staff. (Now that sounds nice!) When it is your money that is being exchanged for their time, it's important that you make the time count. It's great to be friendly, but do your really want to spend 20 minutes of your hour figuring out what you want to ask him or her? I don't.
Write out 5 of your biggest questions (or all of them) on a notepad and bring that notepad with you. Keep the conversation on track. You are there to absorb the knowledge they offer. At a minimum, most of these professionals went to college and graduate schools for 7 years (minimum!). They're pretty darn smart, most of them!
Resource #8: Conference Calls / Training Calls.
This one is little known and I didn't stumble upon it until I was researching my network marketing company of choice. From the information page of my network marketing opportunity there is a big link titled "conference calls." Most MLM companies do their training via conference calls, as a matter of fact.
When I clicked on it, I saw the schedule of the calls. There was, pretty much everyday, a call scheduled. Some days had two! There were calls for beginning your business, tips for marketing it, training on the travel product, training about your "back-office," and even calls for women only. (I've still been interested in listening in on that one to see what on earth might be different.) The number was there, and the pin to get on. I dialed in on Monday. I liked it. It actually sold me on the company just listening to them.
Check around the companies that you're interested in and find theirs. For overall business learning, go to a finance site, like finance.google.com and start looking up companies that you know of (Pepsi, American Express, Jones Soda, ect.). In the general information pages, there will be links to their conference calls as well.
There, you'll get familiar with corporate talk, share holder issues, marketing strategies, "important questions," and you'll hear financial numbers tossed around in a way that you should really be comfortable with. You can do it all from your phone, and with extreme privacy, too, if you really want it that way. It's like being a fly on the wall and learning the secrets of companies. ...except that they're free for your taking and not really so secret.
Resource #9: An acquaintance who's already done it.
This is also called a mentor, or just someone successful that you want to emulate. This person has answers instantly, and if they don't, they know where to get them. They've failed and they've succeeded. They've tripped and recovered.
One important note here, though, is that your mentor should not become your crutch. Knowledge that you've looked up and learned yourself will last you for ages longer than the quick, call-up-your-bud, fix! "RTFM." (Look that up. You'll get a kick out of it.)
For me, that person is actually several people. One is a guy who lives near, that I have a lot of respect for, who started his own t-shirt business. He's given me shortcuts to file papers here in Puerto Rico, he's been there for me when I wanted to tear the head off of a very-hard-to-deal-with person, he tossed me valuable books when I was brainstorming questions, and he's been a constant beacon of what admirable resolve and stoic maturity will get you in life.
You're really surrounded by more than you think. Does your aunt own a beautiful home, and always keeps a receipt after she buys something? Does your grandfather run a one-man medical or consulting practice? Do you have that one friend that seems to be selling something three times a year? Does he talk about turning $300 into $500 a lot?
People who have been to where you want to go are great resources for getting directions to that place!
Resource #10: The people you're buying things from.
This is related to finding a mentor, but it's significantly different and often overlooked. If you're buying something from somebody, you obviously trust that they know how to deliver what you're getting. Especially if you've been a customer of theirs for quite some time.
Two examples: One; there's a bar that I hang out at, close to my condo, that I frequent enough to know the locals and staff. One day, the guy I was playing pool with, pointed out the new owner. I had been wondering about some good changes I saw.
The new owner he pointed out was a reserve police officer that I knew because he was also the bouncer for the bar since I had been living in Puerto Rico. What? Yeah. I thought the same thing. How on earth did he do that? Well talk to him about it. I did.
Two; again down the street, I frequent a particular restaurant with amazing chuletas (pork chops.). The bar tender was an old man that befriended me when I first arrived and showed me a lot about the neighborhood I was moving into. One day, I saw him standing in front of a small, street side, diner that had been for rent for several month. He was holding the keys to the door and I saw that, inside, he had a food display up, stocked with lots of Puerto Rican fried treats. He was in business for himself. Now when I go there for the seafood salad, I ask how business is going. We toss ideas back and forth.
It doesn't have to be that specific though. Are you looking for an apartment? Are you looking with a realtor? Do you want to know more about real estate investments? Ask him or her something! Do you have a brokerage account; savings account? Call up a rep and ask him or her the difference between this and that. Most of them only charge you when you use them to buy something.
Resource #11: Podcasts.
I love them! I have a phone that is also an mp3 player. Go to iTunes, from Apple, and search for whatever topic you're interested in (in this case, business) and start downloading free podcasts right away! You can also go to sites you like and find them offered from their site. RichDad.com is a good example of one I like.
I've read every book of his that I could get my hands on, and it's even cooler to hear the author, Robert Kiyosaki, talk about it.
This resource is great! You can really only read so much. After that it's super refreshing to hear somebody talking about what you're interested in. You can hear the tone of their voice, the enthusiasm or importance of what's being said, and you get a real live human interaction feel to it!
I've used podcasts for my Spanish, to learn some history, to listen in about technology, to hear something that looked interesting about science, anything! There is really just about everything you can imagine, talked about on a podcast, somewhere. And 99% of them are free! People just seem to like hearing themselves talk and putting it on the internet. And that works out good for you and me.
Resource #12: The Entire Freaking World!
Anyone and Everyone. I like the Spanish phrase for it; for "everyone." Todo el Mundo. Literally, "all the world; the whole world."
Seriously! This is the most valuable resource that you have at your disposal, for free! In bars, clubs, or at parties, it's called flirting or mingling. In the business world, we call it networking. Network, network, and network! If you haven't talked to someone about something out of the ordinary today, you are missing out on a truly wonderful part of life!
It's the best resource and the cheapest resource, and that's why I saved this one for last. If you don't remember any one thing from this article, remember this: Network every single place you go!
I know many people are dreading the notion of this. They picture themselves running around, shaking hands, and putting on the fakest smile they've ever seen. Some of you even see yourselves puking in the garbage can after a night of this. Get over it! People are really, really cool! Take 5 seconds out of your life and say hello to one. You will be amazed at what comes of it!
It doesn't require a frightening smile, and it doesn't require some ridiculous, off-the-wall, handshake. As a matter of fact, if you do that, you'll scare half the people off anyway. All it requires is you to be genuine and cordial. Be yourself. "Hey. What's going on?" That's all it takes!
"Hi. How are you?" That's good." as you stand or sit next to someone for whatever reason.
Sometimes the conversation will end there. Sometimes it will carry on later. Sometimes it will carry on, on the spot. It doesn't matter really. Who cares? You shouldn't. All you've done is establish to another human being that you, too, are human and you're not aggressive or out to hurt them. You may even be interesting to talk to.
What this does:
All kinds of things! The results here are endless. You will learn about or be turned-on to things that you had no clue about five minutes earlier! I once met a guy on the train in New York who was writing letters to women in prison, looking for a wife. I'm dead serious! My girlfriend and I thought he was the strangest guy ever! But we know one more thing about the world now. Was that profitable to my business? Not that particular incident. (although it did pass the time wonderfully!)
But here's one that was: Talking to a guy that I had just met at a bar, I found out that he was a pharmaceutical tech of some sort. He was working with a company and a university here in Puerto Rico. His company was developing a microscopic device (think the size of a blood cell) that could be ingested and, in turn, "would travel to a virus or cancer cell and tell it to get sick." They've been testing this on fish. That's exactly how he explained it.
It would tell the virus or malignant cell that it was now sick and it can't reproduce anymore. Did I understand it completely? Heck no! But I did ask him to write down the name of his company and looked them up with my brokerage account first thing in the morning! In the end, I decided not to invest with them but that was still a tip worth exploring. ...and all it cost me was genuine interest.
A few other examples: A lady at a bar I like in Old San Juan introduced me to my network marketing company when we were talking about stocks and web design, of all things. A man in Starbucks gave me tangible details about rental properties and also introduced me to the wonders of the Hebrew language. And a Canadian band in Bahrain taught me how to run a successful touring campaign in the middle-east.
Even more, here's a really odd one (if the others weren't!) -- 5 years ago, an eagle trainer in Alaska, introduced me to a book called Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor (Bantam, revised 1999) which set in motion, in my life, a series of events and interests that had me train a stranger's parrot, try to train my goldfish, and take a supreme interest in human relations, human behavior, and languages, which has all bled over to my business interests! All from asking an eagle trainer a few questions in Ketchikan, AK, of all places to be.
Networking is the most powerful and useful resource that you can ever learn to take advantage of!
I hope that after reading this, one thing is phenomenally clear to everyone: Resources are so out there! (tell yourself that! let it sink in!) They are sources spewing the wisdom and knowledge that they have to offer, just waiting for you to pick up and absorb.
You are a business owner (or you want to be) and the business world is one of mounting abundance! If one market is too full, there are a hundred others that are barely tapped and just begging to be filled! Fill them! Start making yourself a valuable person and figure out how to solve people's problems!
This is not hard to do. Look at yourself and examine yourself. You know no demographic better than the very one that you are a part of! What have you solved for yourself? How can that help others? How do you get it in front of people like yourself who are looking for those same solutions? Find that and you have the key.
Start taking advantage of your resources today. Start looking at your world as a world of abundance! It really is. You can turn on CNBC, call a buddy, go find a podcast, or go start one of the free courses mentioned earlier.
Take care, all. Best wishes and great success!
Oh Yeah. The Bonuses.I told you that as I write this I would probably think of more. I actually thought of a dozen more and forgot about just as many. The top three that I held onto were these: Pell Grants. Qualifiers of Pell Grants get up to $4,500 a year for college education. This is a wonderful bonus from our democratic government. Start with FAFSA.ed.gov and fill out an app to see what you qualify for.
Market Simulators. Sites like Investopedia.com and CNBC.com offer mock brokerage accounts that you can open up and start playing with fake money (much easier than watching your own disappear!), using actual market conditions from live time. Lose and learn!
And OJT. On The Job training. This is great! If there's something you want to learn about, volunteer at a place that does that! File papers for a real estate agency and start learning, offer to run errands for a business man in exchange for an "apprenticeship." Start working at a restaurant to learn Point of Sales systems and everything that would be involved in owning your own. If you really want to learn something, dive in and get dirty!
Original Copyright in 2007, Chad Tabary.