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The Four Hour Body and You Like many of your Tim Ferriss fans out there, I've been very keen to try the Four Hour Body lifestyle change. I'm overweight by quite a few pounds, so I made a New Year's resolution to shed some pounds....

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Improvements and Fixes to WP E-CommerceImprovements and Fixes to WP E-Commerce Like many of you, I am a user of the WP E-Commerce plug-in for Wordpress as well as a Gold Cart upgrade customer. While WP E-Commerce has many excellent features and does wonders for the Wordpress-based...

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Credit cards: a lifeline for cash Hi all. It certainly has been a while since I've last posted. That's because in many ways the 4HWW concept has been shot given the urgency of making ends meet and scrambling to get whatever dollars are...

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Version 0.2 of Show User Level Content Plugin Now Available Making an update to the Show User Level Content Plugin ... finally on version 0.2 This version should allow multiple hide statements in the same post. This is a test of that functionality. The first...

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More on Banking... A while back I posted about business banking accounts, and asked the community what their thoughts were on the best ones for FHWW'ers. I never really did get a good response, but the post is out there,...

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More Muse Ideas: e-Commerce Web Sites?

Category : muse

A lot of us 4HWW’ers are searching for muses that are Passive Income Generators (PIGs) and also require little investment upfront or continued maintenance (to allow them to be true 4 hour a week exercises). Maybe it’s a panacea, since if there was truly something that can return income with little or no time investment, everyone would be doing it, which would then eliminate any of the financial benefit. Economic markets are efficient, right?

Or maybe there are such sorts of businesses, but they can never truly replace income by themselves. Perhaps the key to a good PIG-type muse is to have a collection of small businesses, each of which contribute a modest amount, but togethr contrbute a significant amount.

In that vein, I’m getting a few of my muses together. The first muse is this blog. But a blog isn’t truly a PIG. Indeed, a blog is really an Active Income Generator (AIG) because it requires continuous work on the blogger to allow it to derive value. Well, maybe not entirely… some blogs automatically parrot information available elsewhere. Those blogs then can truly be PIG-type muses. But it’s the one where new and fresh content is the draw that makes blogs AIGs.

Note: I really need better acronyms, since we like PIGs and the AIG acronym sounds too close to an existing, failing business entity. Anyone have any ideas that convey the same meaning but have better acronyms?

An e-Commerce site as a PIG

So, one of those modestly-contributing PIGs I am considering is an ecommerce site selling a specific niche of items. There is some set-up time involved in an ecommerce site, especially around the website development and selection of products. Also, there is the issue of dealing with customer support and shipping / packaging. But I have a feeling that e-Commerce has evolved so that it can be completely turnkey without requiring the user to do anything but generate traffic.

Here’s where I’m stuck. I need help here — has anyone recently put together an e-Commerce site with a minimal of money and time investment and managed to keep operations humming with little continuous money and time investment? If so, I want to hear about it! What tools did you use? What companies are you working with? Send me your advice, and we’ll keep it posted here.

See you around the 4HWW world!

Excellent Post on the 4HWW Workflow

Category : revenue, time management

I read a fantastic post by Jed @ the Newly Rich called “Our 4HWW Workflow, Part I“. Without stealing his thunder (and idea), I encourage you to take a look at the post that diagrams a ludicrously simple, but very effective way of looking at your tasks.

Here’s a quick thumbnail of the flow. Click on it to view it at the original post location:

Workflow diagram for basic 4HWW process

Thanks, Jed!

Selling eBooks as a muse?

Category : book, muse, revenue

Hi all –

Sorry for the pause in content. I’ve been working hard as well as I’ve embarked on my MADFUN exercises. Plus, I haven’t really had much to write about. Maybe I should write anyways?

In any case, thanks for the feedback I’ve gotten from you all on my eLance and Time Management posts. I hope they have helped. On the 4HWW front, I’m looking at writing and publicizing some eBooks as a passive income source. Has anyone else had any experience in successfully doing that? Ironically, if I come across some great techniques, I’ll publish them as an eBook so that you all can learn from me!

Contribute to Your Public Blogger — Passing the Tip Jar

Category : DHFW Site, muse, revenue

I often listen to NPR and other Public Radio stations. Do you? Doesn’t it annoy you when they have to interrupt their broadcasting to make an appeal to their audiences for donations and support?

Just like you, I find it annoying that those pledge drives interrupt the shows I like to listen to you, but at the same time, I understand why they do that. They have to somehow fund their activities, and since they don’t barrage you with advertisements, the pledge drive is the only way to make their financial ends meet. It’s actually good that they don’t rely heavily on advertisements as the non-public radio stations do, since that could also taint their independent perspective.

Like public radio stations, I write in this blog mostly for my amusement and for the information and pleasure of those who read it. While I do have many advertisements placed throughout the site, the truth is that they really don’t result in much, if any, revenue for me.

I posted a while back on the topic of blog revenue as a passive source of income, but until this blog reaches a significant traffic level, it’s pretty much all a pipe dream.

In that vein, I come to you, my faithful readers. Like NPR, I’d like to take this opportunity to pass the Tip Jar and ask for donations. I am working as hard as I can to turn this blog into a Muse and thus a Passive Income source. But until then, it’s hard for me to focus on the blog when there are other pressing financial concerns.

As such, I’d like to ask you to donate whatever you can to my cause. On the right side of the screen, you might notice a donation widget from a website called ChipIn that allows you to contribute to my Muse. If you can’t find it, I’ve also included it below:





Anyways, without belaboring the point, I hope you can support me as I try to turn this blog into both a source of information and entertainment as well as revenue to continue to support those goals. Any amount can help as well as any feedback you might have about making this site, or my Muse attempts, any better.


Thank you so much and keep tuning into this station!

Muses vs. “Real” Businesses (A Guest Post from HilaryCat)

Category : muse, revenue

Editor’s Note: This post is a guest post from Hilary Catherall. Hilary Catherall is a co-founder and the president of technology startup DOMITECH, L.L.C., a revolutionary web development company. DOMITECH’s projects so far include www.city-dweller.com and www.saneliving.org. Hilary still holds down her day job for now, and just started seriously applying the principles from the 4HWW late last year in hopes of attaining a little Liberation. You can contact her at hilary.catherall@dom-itech.com and read more of her writing at hilarycat.blogspot.com.

As I recently posted in my hilarycat blog , I think I’ve wrapped my mind around what Tim Ferriss calls a “muse” in the 4-Hour Work Week. As Tim says, muses are automated vehicles for producing cash without requiring much time… but to put the complete explanation into a (densely packed) nutshell, they are automated & outsourced businesses that drop-ship quickly manufactured, moderately priced, substantially marked up, easily-understood specialty products with staying power to niche audiences we already understand.Whew. If you haven’t thoroughly read 4HWW, you may not grok that definition very quickly, but for those of us who are starting to internalize the system, I believe it’s a neat and tidy summary for easy reference. Contunue Reading

Making money from your muse… Blog Revenue — the Authoritative Guide

Category : muse, revenue

Editor’s Note: First, let me note that this is a very long blog post. I probably should have chopped it up into a few blog posts, but I didn’t want to lose the stream of thought.

Getting a bit more practical, one of the themes in the Four Hour Work Week is the idea that you can have a nice source of passive income from a short investment in time called a Muse. Hilarycat posted recently on what constitutes a Muse (or in her words, a Passive Income Generator [PIG]). But the gist is that it’s not necessarily your main “day job”, but rather something that allows you to earn the income needed so that your main job doesn’t consume you. You can be free to pursue the things you want because the lights can stay on and the kids can stay fed.

As a way to get things started, blogs themselves can be nice sources of revenue and could potentially be muses if they turned into something bigger. That does not mean that it has to consume lots of time, but you should definitely thing about all the ways to generate revenue from a blog and related media. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. If you know of other ways to turn blogging and writing activity into muse-worthy income, let everyone know by posting some feedback in the comments.

Contunue Reading

Found a great bank for Small Biz… Provident Bank

Category : Getting Started, revenue

I posted the other day on the topic of finding a good bank for small businesses. I got a few great recommendations and ended up settling with Provident Bank, a regional bank in the Virginia, DC, Maryland, and Pennsylvania region. They offer free business checking accounts with no minimum balance requirement, the offer bill payment, merchant services, and even do the Remote Deposit option that I was so enamored with. And, as a bonus (until February 14, 2008), they will even give you $122 for opening an account with them. Whammo! Can’t lose on this one. Opened it up today with a $50 deposit, configured my Amazon.com, Google Adsense, and Cafepress revenue sources to point to this new bank, and away I go! I already made a few bucks on this deal.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out, but you can’t beat that for a muse bank account.

Outsourcing Collections and Accounts Receivable?

Category : outsourcing

One of the main themes espoused in the The 4-Hour Workweek is the idea that you should outsource all tasks that you can and automate all the rest, leaving your time mostly focused on strategy, business-growth, and handling escalated tasks that exceed the capabilities of the outsourcers. All this sounds great, and Tim Ferriss makes lots of recommendations in his book on outsourcing a wide range of activities. However, one of the things he doesn’t mention much about is the activity of collecting money from customers.

If you’re doing things right with a muse (or even bigger) business, collections should not even be an issue. You’re probably already charging upfront for your products,using credit cards, or check prior to receipt of goods, and so you shouldn’t even have an accounts receivable problem. This is another argument behind the point that the 4HWW ideas and lifestyle is primarily suited to product-based businesses that sell products up to $500 (items that can easily be charged to a credit card). I presented other arguments to back up the point that the 4HWW lifestyle and outsourcing concepts are not really appropriate for service-based businesses at all, or product-based businesses that have long sales cycles, expensive price-points, in-person delivery or sales, or proposal generation. Basically, the 4HWW ideas are really meant for payment-upfront, product-based businesses that require no in-person sales, delivery, or proposal generation and where the decision-making cycle is very short. This really leaves a lot of businesses outside of the 4HWW ideal.

For those in the services industries or in businesses where it is impossible to receive full payment for goods prior to delivery, then the ugly problem of collecting accounts receivables rears its ugly head. Collections takes time. Generating invoices. Collecting checks. Following up with delinquent accounts. Finance charges / service fees. Working with large company’s accounts payable systems and procurement people. None of this is fun nor conducive to the 4HWW goals. If you can’t change your business to bring it in line with the sweet spot defined above, then what can you do? Outsource the whole collections and accounts receivable mess.

I have not yet done any research in this area, but I can imagine that there must be a place where you can send your monthly or weekly or even daily accounts receivables to some outsourced firm who goes through all the trouble of making sure the payments are received. I would imagine they’d take a percentage cut of the collections to do so, however, but save you the headache of managing such a time-suck of an activity. For large-ticket items ($50k an above maybe), this might be a good idea. But for those in the not-so-sweet spot of 4HWW (products over $5,000), but not quite $50k, this might prove to be problematic.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of accounts receivables outsourcing and have any advice? Do you think I have it wrong with regards to the 4HWW sweet spot and characterization of the 4HWW ideals as primarily focused on cash-upfront (point-of-sale) products that are bought (not sold!) between $50 and $500?

Happy New Year! My Resolutions

Category : life balance

First, I would like to wish all readers a Happy New Year! I hope this will be a year of satisfaction, wealth, productivity, and less work for you all! But most of all, I hope this is a year of the Four Hour Work Week for myself, readers, and anyone else going down this path.

I think the timing of reading the book meshes quite well with the beginning of the year. Maybe it’s not coincidental — picking up the book in the first place was motivated by having more time on my hands due to the holiday season (more time to read) as well as being a very retrospective time of the year. (What can I work on / improve / eliminate in the year ahead?)  Regardless, I am really looking forward to making serious progress on my goals, and I have to say, reading the blogs of other 4HHW bloggers really is helping.

4HWW Resolutions for the Business

First, I have to continue working in my existing business, which is right now generating 90% of my income (the other 10% coming from investments and interest). But the goal will be to reduce the time requirement for that down to 20-30 hours per week from the 40-60 now. The primary way I plan to do that is by strategically outsourcing certain parts of the business.

One of the big parts that is consuming lots of my time is marketing some of our events and attracting attendees to a number of our upcoming events. This is something that is urgent and important (Quadrant I Covey), but not something that requires such an expensive resource as me to perform. I think this would be ideal for off-shore, outsourced resources (perhaps located close to the regions to be contacted). I’ll have to start my search on eLance.

Once that’s outsourced, the next activity is around delivery of some of the services and training, which I think can also be done through partners and other resources, leaving me to do sales and business development, my forte. But the big goal is to get the company sold in 2008. This will leave me to pursue the other businesses, which I think will be more aligned with my ongoing entrepreneurial drive, desire to enter the product business, and achieve the time (life/work) balance I seek.

More importantly, I want to start my other businesses in 2008. There are two businesses I am most interested in running. One is a Web 2.0 company that, if it actually manages to work and get traction, I could build into something with real value and potentially sell to one of the majors. The other has absolutely nothing to do with the IT industry and can potentially also prove to be very lucrative.

Oh, and I have an idea for a simple product (a fad, really) that I’d like to test market and develop a prototype. But I’ve never developed anything like it, so I need to gather some experience in doing that sort of product.

Is this too much to all be done in one year? Let’s find out.

4HWW Resolutions for this Blog

First, I want to learn from other 4HWW bloggers and hope that the community can continue to motivate me to my goals and increasing efficiency. In particular, I’m following the blogs of the Four Hour Trial (which looks very interesting – I think I might even ask for some advice!) and the Four Hour Work Week Journal, which seems to be just starting.

I will then endeavor to post what I learn about time savings, outsourcing, product development, marketing, and work/life balance. Hopefully this will encourage all to do the same.

And while this might be a long shot, I’d like to earn at least $5k in first-year revenues from the blog. This would be around $400-$500 a month in revenues, which would be from my primary revenue sources:

  • Google Ads (click on the links if you are interested in what they offer!)
  • Amazon.com Affiliate sales (buy they books if you want to help me out)
  • Cafepress Items (buy my items if you like the designs)
  • Adbrite (not quite yet set up)
  • Pay-to-Blog (I’ll try that soon, and let you know how that goes!)

If each of these contributes $100 or so a month, I’ll get there.
4HWW Resolutions for MADFUN

  • Restart my music hobby. I want to learn how to play guitar and mandolin (maybe banjo) as well as other instruments. I’ll see if I can get the weekly music lessons going and see how far I can get.
  • Enter an MBA program. This is the big “muse”. While not a revenue-earning muse as referred to in 4HWW, it is a good investment in myself. I found a good weekend MBA program that might be suited for my particular profile as an entrpreneur. It will take 2 years, but if I can prove I can run 4 businesses, complete an MBA, have MADFUN, and still have a life, I think this 4HWW concept will be well proven.
  • Continue my dance hobby. I love to dance. I’ll see if I can squeeze it in at least 2 nights a week
  • Cook more at home, take cooking lessons. Home cooking is not only more economical, but also healthier than the alternatives. I love to cook, so I will make it a goal to cook as frequently on my own or find a means to outsource the parts that are time consuming (groceries?) and see if that helps to optimize the schedule.
  • Leave weekends as free as possible. The end goal of the successful four-hour-a-weeker.
  • Expand my contacts and personal / business network. This is all a stepping stone to the next big thing. If I can succeed on the above, I will then take my efforts one notch further.

Resolutions for Me

So, what does this all mean? I’m being quite ambitious, and some of the above may have to fall by the wayside. After all, the idea is more revenue, less time, more enjoyment, less stress (eustress, not distress, remember?). But can that be done? I’m still less than 30 days into this experiment. But 2008 is when it all kicks in.

More playing with numbers

Category : revenue

Following up on the last post where we identified the target market by identifying pricing and market size most appropriate for Bought Products, things get better when we observe the power of monthly revenue.

Ways to Make $5M a year - Take 1

# of Products Sold Price Per-Product Monthly Revenue Consumables (3x per year)
1 $5,000,000 $416,667 $1,666,667
5 $1,000,000 $83,333 $333,333
10 $500,000 $41,667 $166,667
50 $100,000 $8,333 $33,333
100 $50,000 $4,167 $16,667
500 $10,000 $833 $3,333
1000 $5,000 $417 $1,667
5000 $1,000 $83 $333
10000 $500 $42 $167
50000 $100 $8.33 $33
100000 $50 $4.17 $17
500000 $10 $1 $3.33
1000000 $5 $0.42 $1.67
5000000 $1 $0.08 N/A

But, let’s take another twist. Let’s keep the price constant and instead think of how the numbers of customers change when we move to monthly, or any repeated sale per year.

Ways to make $5M a Year - Take 2

$ per sale # of Customers Monthly Customers # of customers (3 sales/yr)
$1 5,000,000 416,667 1,666,667
$5 1,000,000 83,333 333,333
$10 500,000 41,667 166,667
$50 100,000 8,333 33,333
$100 50,000 4,167 16,667
$500 10,000 833 3,333
$1,000 5,000 417 1,667
$5,000 1,000 83 333
$10,000 500 42 167
$50,000 100 8 33
$100,000 50 4 17
$500,000 10 1 3
$1,000,000 5 N/A 2
$5,000,000 1 N/A N/A

What makes this interesting is that consumable products… that is, products that provide only a short term value that then need to be replenished have excellent prospects.

To make $5M in revenue, all one needs to do, for example:

  1. Find 10,000 customers and sell them something for $500 once,or…
  2. Find 100,000 customers and sell them something for $50 once, or …
  3. Find 100,000 customers and sell them something $17 three times in a year, or…
  4. Find 8,333 customers and sell them something for $50 a month, or…
  5. Find 20,000 customers and sell them something for $21 a month, or..

You can see how that goes. Play with the numbers and use them to help determine whether your bought product strategy makes sense. Next step: figure out what product to sell, whether it’s a consumable or a one-time sale, or a monthly recurring revenue source. Personally, I like the 10,000 customers $500 a pop or 20,000 customers $21 a month plan… Hmm.