I’ve earned money dozens of different ways, from traditional jobs in restaurants and construction to wild entrepreneurial schemes that sometimes worked and sometimes flopped disastrously.
I applaud anyone who opens a business. In trying something new (and sometimes failing) you will always learn SOMETHING. I love the Orrin Woodward quote:
“Never leave the scene of a good butt-kicking without learning anything….”
There is always risk in trying anything unconventional, you can waste time and money, but at the end of the day you’ll have a more interesting story!
Here is a list of some of the wackiest things I’ve tried in the past 25 years, along with the end results. I’ve left out the all the normal jobs (like insurance agent and lifeguarding) since you probably already know what those jobs entail.
1. English Teacher in Taiwan… In 1995 I flew to Asia on a one-way plane ticket to teach English. I stayed there for almost a year, earned thousands of dollars, learned how to speak some Mandarin, and met my wife. Traveling to the other side of the world was risky, but the reward and consequences were huge.
My wife gave me two lovely daughters, if I had not gone to Taiwan my life would be very different today. I’m highly blessed to have Rachel and the girls in my life!
2. Roller Blade Instructor… This was a part-time gig in I landed in Taiwan. I worked with an Australian and we taught little kids how to rollerblade. I made a few bucks, had some fun.
3. Nude Art Model… The art department at my university paid me $15 per hour to pose naked as a jaybird for the art students who were learning how to sketch the human form. I did this for a few months, made a few extra dollars. I was fit at the time, but people of many different body types worked in this job. There are sketches of my bare rear-end out there, somewhere in the universe.
4. Church Baritone… The Presbyterian Church in Cherry Hill paid me $50 per week to be the lead Baritone. My weekly obligation was Wednesday night choir practice and both services on Sunday morning, so I guess I was a professional singer? The pay was modest, but I got to sing some lovely music. I had this job at the same time I worked as a naked art model!
5. Term Paper Writer… When I was finishing my Economics degree I started to write term papers for other students. I had taken many different classes and honed my ability to write term papers in almost any subject. Writing term papers for other kids was my first (and only) criminal enterprise. I made a couple hundred bucks doing this, but I also risked expulsion from my University.
6. Balloon Twister… I found a job twisting balloons for restaurants with a company called Balloon Attractions. I made over $25,000 in income doing restaurant gigs and events in my first 12 months twisting balloons. I hustled all the time, working in restaurants 5-6 nights each week, while also handling a full course load my last year in college. Of all the things I learned in my college years balloon twisting was by far the most lucrative skill in the long term.
7. Amway Business Owner… I was selling insurance in 1998 when one of my clients sponsored me into Amway. I went to several meetings, used the product, sponsored a handful of people, but never earned more than about $100 per month, if that. I never built my team consistently, so my failure in Amway was my fault, not Amway’s. I learned a ton of stuff in Amway that I used a few years later to grow Balloon Distractions.
8. Door to Door Energy Sales… It was 1999, I saw an ad in the paper for door to door deregulated energy sales. For the next 3 years I built sales teams and ran door to door crews from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Atlanta. I got the rare opportunity to knock doors in some of the sketchiest ghettos in the Northeast. My first year in door to door I made 65K, my best year I cleared 130K. The market for deregulated energy fell apart when Enron collapsed in the fall of 2001. I left door to door and took a job selling Toyotas.
9. Owner of Balloon Distractions… Starting in 2003 with a small team in Tampa I built Balloon Distractions into a national company. This has been my most successful enterprise thus far, grossing several million since the beginning. BD has been surprisingly stable over the years, my most reliable source of income. Most of the revenue went out for payroll, expenses and Uncle Sam! Balloon Distractions still generates revenue every day except for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and has done so since 2003.
10. Your Travel Biz (YTB) owner… Like most folks who join network marketing I signed up, but never did anything.
11. Stemtech Business Owner…. Same as YTB and Amway, all three were networking business models. I have no excuse for WHY I never built these, other than just being distracted by other things. Broken focus folks, it can be a problem.
12. Airbag Motorcycle Jackets… While in Taiwan back in 2008 I met an inventor who made motorcycle jackets that would inflate like an airbag (via CO2 cartridges) if you fell off your motorcycle. I brought a few jackets back to the states, but my lawyer felt that the jackets represented a huge liability risk. I never made a dime with this idea.
13. Super Sonic Sphere! This was a little light-up toy that I found in Taiwan that I thought was so cool I imported a couple hundred and tried to sell them here. I even put up a website and made some cool videos. I sold a few Super Sonic Spheres, but all in all I lost money on this deal. This is what they look like:
14. The EB-5 Program…. This is an investment program that allows foreign nationals access to green cards if they invest in the United States and create a total of 10 new jobs. I tinkered with this idea, even went to Taiwan in 2010 with my wife, but nothing ever came of this. I lost about $8,000 trying to make this idea work!
15. Author… In 2014 I wrote my first book, We Twist for Tips. I spent a few months writing the book and we sell a few downloads each month on Amazon, you can buy it here:
Small commissions from book sales are magically deposited into my bank account each month, so I’m happy about that.
16. Life Leadership Business Owner (LIFE)…. I became a customer of the LIFE personal development material in March of 2014. It saved my marriage first…
Then my wife and I used the LIFE financial fitness training to pay off about 100K in debt…
Finally, the LIFE training also led me to sobriety…. This was all before I made a profit from the business.
In October of 2014 I started to build a compensated community with the LIFE business model, in the last 14 months that business has grown quickly and is close to generating as much business volume as Balloon Distractions!
After all the other wacky things that I’ve tried I feel that my LIFE business will outrun all of them, including Balloon Distractions. The model works, it creates residual income, and the founders of LIFE are constantly improving the opportunity for anyone who gets involved today.
My income from LIFE has not caught up to my income from BD yet, but my LIFE business is profitable and growing each month.
Of all the ventures I’ve tried I feel that building a community with LIFE has a more profound purpose than merely making an income.
We are changing lives for the better, and I feel that this is a good and noble use of my time.
I’ll stay in the LIFE business until I’m an old guy, no doubt.
If you are interested in trying your hand at entrepreneurship I would encourage you to do something with……..
(1. Great systems in which you can find…
(2. a strong mentor and also…
(3. build a residual income…
I’m glad I tried all these different things, it made my story more interesting, even when I lost money!
The risk has always been minor compared to the overall benefit to my life, the safe route is almost always the dull route as well.
January 3, 2016
BTW, watch the video on this website if you want to evaporate your debt: