Running A Business

I love sand socks.

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever seen me out at Volleyball Beach – I’m typically donning one of my many pairs of these awesome clothing inventions to keep my feet safe.  Maybe today is a fluorescent-yellow-AVP sand sock kind of day; maybe it’s one of my three black pairs; or perhaps it’s the right day to put on my hot-pink-breast-cancer-awareness pair.

What’s even more beautiful is that I have these miracles of footwear because I own a company that sells them (Spicy or Mild; a company I own with three friends).

Wait – that’s not correct.  The right way to say it is:  What’s beautiful is that I get to own a company that sells these miracles of footwear that I love.

And no, their not the same thing.  Owning something that your company sells (the former) isn’t bad by any stretch, but it implies that you’re in business and you reap the benefits of that.  What’s even better, though, is when you get to leverage your passion (sand socks and helping others) and turn that into a living – the latter description.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is beautiful.

Spicy or Mild isn’t my full time gig by any stretch at this point (we’re still struggling through some of the marketing and product lines), but it’s nice to have some coinciding of one of my passions with making a little side money.  And we did turn a profit last year.  This year we’re expecting to have our annual meeting in first quarter somewhere warm and sunny – like, say, on a beach –  where we can use our sand socks.

Do you have a side business that couples what you enjoy with a little extra income?  If not I can’t recommend it enough – it doesn’t have to take an extended amount of time (got a couple of hours a week?  you can run a side business), doesn’t require a bunch of money (you can start-up for less than $100) and doesn’t require anything brain-wise you don’t already have (if you simply like things or are even better-than-the-average bear at something you’re fine).

I could point you to tons of resources you could use to help you get there (or you could Google and find 1000000x more), but here’s my top five:

  • The Four Hour Workweek.  A book by Tim Ferris (and an accompanying web site), this is the book that really changed my perspective on things.  Without this book (which I’ve read/listened to seven times) Spicy or Mild doesn’t exist and I don’t parade around in colorful sand socks.  I have an extra copy of this book if you’re serious about reading and doing something with it.  Just shoot me a note and you can have it.
  • The $100 Startup.  A new book from Chris Guillebeau that walks you through what you need to know to start your business for $100.  Not just a how-to, you’ll also find real life examples of people who have started businesses on a shoestring – full-time employed or otherwise.  I happen to have an extra copy of this book you can have, as well, if someone is serious about wanting to read it (just drop me a line).
  • GoDaddy.  Some people will immediately curse me for encouraging their racy advertisements (which they’re toning down) and tech people will cry foul for their stance on SOPA (which has been clarified).  Fair enough.  But I’ve been with GoDaddy for years – ever since I decided I needed my own presence on the web.  For under $100 you can start a full on-line business with your own domain (like “SpicyOrMild.com” or “PaulGillespie.me”), a full year of hosting, a full-fledged e-commerce site and bunches of ad credits for Facebook, Google and others.  All with no programming experience required.  Boo-ya.
  • WordPress.  If you’re looking to set up a web site (be it personal, business, a blog, a storefront or pretty much anything else) the answer is WordPress.  Here’s why: it’s free, incredibly extensible and has a highly interactive community of people to help.  Oh, yeah – and it’s freakishly easy to set-up.  If you have a hosting account and a domain (and if not see above) you can set up WordPress with step-by-step directions in about 15 minutes     [Want a taste?  The Paul Gillespie Experience (a blog) is run on WordPress.  So is BeachVolleyballSandSox.com (a storefront).  Paul Gillespie Photography (a photography site) is, too.  The LA Times Media Kit is built on WordPress (albeit with some advanced custom programming).  And, because I’m all about being nostalgic – the Pac-Man site is, too.]
  • Someone who’s done it before.  Find someone who’s got a side business (like me) and take them to lunch.  Or buy them a cup of coffee.  Or just shoot them an e-mail.  Pick their brain, ask them questions.  You’d probably be (pleasantly) surprised at how much people who have found success are happy to share those secrets with you.  Use this guide from Ramit Sethi on using natural networking to connect with people (the “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” guy) if you need some help getting started.

You can find more Spicy or Mild on our Facebook page (which we just launched!), on Twitter or on one of our storefronts:


(some links are affiliate links; please contact me or Google it if you’d prefer a direct link)

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