Do I Need a Business Manifesto?

One of the nice things about having your own blog is that you can use it as a place to publicly talk out your thoughts and get them in order. I’m going to do that today.

I listened to Simon Sinek’s famous “Start with Why” Ted Talk again yesterday. If you haven’t watched it and you’re trying to start any kind of business, I highly recommend it. He says that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Ok, so how does that apply to me?

See, learning the arts of marketing and sales has turned out to be the most challenging thing I have ever tried to do. I went to grad school for Computer Science, so that gives you an idea of just how hard this is for me. Some people seem to take to it like a fish to water, but for me it’s like making my way through virgin forest with a machete and a good pair of boots. Hard, personal work!

It’s not that I don’t have an idea of why I’m doing this. One of the first things good network marketing training asks you to do is to find your “Why”. Entrepreneurship has simple steps, but they are hard to do and knowing why you want to succeed can help get you through the times when you want to quit.

I went through all these exercises and I know why I want to succeed financially and that I want to work from home, but that’s not the same question as “What do you believe?”.

Ok… what DO I believe?

  • I believe that everyone has the power to find work at the intersection of what the market wants and what is meaningful to them
  • I believe that everyone should be equipped with an understanding of how to make the financial system work for them before they leave school
  • I believe in entrepreneurship
  • I believe in community
  • I believe in hard work

Good enough. Next question: How on earth does this relate to shampoo?

Do I need special beliefs that relate to everything I sell or is it enough to just like the products?

Let’s make a table:

Product/Service Belief Connection
Web Content Writing Meaningful Work/Entrepreneurship Good marketing helps entrepreneurs succeed. I write web content to help them convey their passion for their work. That brings in more customers, which helps them stay in business.
Shampoo/Skin Care Entrepreneurship/Community/Hard Work Network marketing of any product is done by building a community. It’s hard work, but I really love that it has the potential for higher income that I could earn working for someone else and that compensation is based on merit instead of politics.
Eggs Meaningful/Community Homesteaders inevitably network with other homesteaders and I just love chickens!

It looks like the answer to my question is that it’s enough to simply like the shampoo. It’s the network marketing business model that fits in with my core beliefs.

That’s a start. But I have more questions. How do I sell community and entrepreneurship with every bottle of shampoo? Should I be screening my web content clients by whether they find their work meaningful? Is this an excuse to get more chickens?

Let’s explore that next time.

 

Why is My Hair So Important to Other People?

Why would I, a person who started out advocating and advertising for farms, want to sell anti-aging products?

IMG_4035

Let me tell you a story:

About five years ago, I realized my hair was thinning. I was pretty disappointed about this. I didn’t realize how attached I had been to the thick, curly hair of my youth. I knew I liked it, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on my confidence when it thinned.

I tried to make the best of it. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought. “It will just be different.” I figured I’d embrace it and let it go gray too. After all, all the young people are paying money to get gray hair and I could get it for free!

I spent a year working on this graying. I color my hair with henna leaf and henna is kind of a commitment. You can’t just bleach it out because it turns green, so I had to let it grow out.

Finally, it was done and I liked it. It was white in the front and a kind of neat salt & pepper in the back. I tried a blue shampoo that brought out the white and made it kind of shiny. It was fun.

Not everyone thought it was fun though.

I still can’t believe how many people had a strong opinion about whether I should color it or not. If I had gotten a goofy haircut, nobody would have said anything, but people who didn’t like the gray sometimes seemed to take it personally and had no qualms about defending themselves.

Most disturbing were the comments of an acquaintance (not a friend, mind you, but someone I spent very little time with). This person apparently felt my hair was such a big deal that it was worth insulting me by telling me I was “too young to be gray” and I should color it.

That just fed right into my insecurities. There I was worrying about my hair again. And I’m still annoyed. I spend thousands of dollars  every year on quality food, exercise, health care and clothes; but it’s the color of my hair that makes the difference between attractiveness and plainness??

Don’t worry. I realize that I’m over reacting. Most people couldn’t care less and lots of people liked my gray hair. But you get to know yourself over time and I know it would take a lot of energy to fend off my insecurities; energy that would be taken away from playing with chickens and building an empire. So I colored it again.

I like the color, but that meant my experiment in embracing change was over. I was back to wondering when I would need a wig and if people were thinking the part in my hair was too big.

IMG_4161

You can imagine how I felt when I heard there was a shampoo that could make some of my hair grow back. It took me a while to figure out what it was and whether it really worked, but I’ve been using it for about five weeks now. What are the results?

I feel so much better!!

I like my hair again. Honestly, I’m not even sure if new hairs are growing or not since it’s only been a few weeks, but it’s soft and shiny and I’ve stopped wondering if people are thinking, “Gosh, her hair is really thinning,” when I go out.

I even went to a fancy party and liked the pictures!

It’s a bit expensive, but worth every penny for the confidence and energy I got back. I sell the hair care line now since I figure lots of other women feel the way I did.

So if you’re fretting over your hair, send me an email or you can fill out this form and I’ll tell you about selling it yourself (and getting a significant discount for your own use).

I never did find out why my hair is so important to other people, but I’m satisfied with it now and honestly, it really is Only for Me.

 

 

 

When They Ask, “What Do You Do?”

I’m trying to write a post, but Mr. Pickles the Cat is aggressively trying to sit in my lap.

Patience the Cat is napping under my floor length skirt.

None of the birds mind. The doves are cooing downstairs and every once in a while some excited chicken talk comes through the window.

It’s a work day and I am working, but I am at home.

You see, people ask me pretty often what Hungry Chicken Homestead does and I’m never entirely sure how to answer. It does whatever the chickens and I happen to be interested in:

  • It sells a variety of naturally based anti-aging products (for humans)
  • It writes web content and blogs for locally owned businesses
  • It sells some eggs here and there, chicken permitting

Hungry Chicken Homestead is my answer to the question, “How can I work from home?”.
Photo on 2-16-18 at 1.20 PM

I didn’t know there was an answer until I got the chance to try it, but there definitely is and I’m sticking with it. I don’t have a get-rich-quick scheme and it’s taken me years to figure out how to really make this work. I’m grateful I stuck with it because if there is one thing that makes my life more enjoyable, it’s the freedom to be where I want to be.

I like to talk about this. If you’ve ever been curious, send me an email and I’ll tell you all about it. Maybe you can stay home too!

 

No Way Out? Escaping from an Escape Room

There we were, me and six other people who aspire to royalty, locked in the castle. We had been warned that the castle guards would return in 60 minutes, but if we could solve the puzzles set by the recently deceased mad king before they caught us then we would ascend to the throne and rule the empire.

The guide who had smuggled us in opened the door and whispered, “good luck” as we entered and then she locked the door behind us. We walked into the hush with trepidation, knowing many other brave renegades had tried, but all had failed.

The late king was indeed mad. He left puzzle after puzzle for hopefuls to solve. We ransacked the room, working together to solve the mysteries. Each puzzle led to yet another puzzle. We split up to solve puzzles simultaneously, as we raced against the clock and certain imprisonment should the guards catch us.

Locked In Escapes 2

When fifty-five minutes had gone by, we were all standing around a mysterious trunk, staring perplexedly at a puzzle we couldn’t seem to solve. At every moment, we imagined we heard the footsteps of the guards. Hearts pounded and our minds raced. Could we escape in time?

Locked In Escapes 5

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Does that sound like fun? Head on over to the castle and you can try it too.

Locked-In Escapes is a family business located on Academy Blvd, in the most unexpected of places… an office building. Any member of this family might be the mad king of our story. Have you ever wondered if your children or your pets lie awake nights thinking of ways to make your day interesting? The Lingold and McDaniel families really do sit around together in the evenings dreaming up ways to stump us.

Locked In Escapes 3

They used to visit escape rooms as a family activity. Dawn and Ken Lingold and their five daughters all enjoy puzzles and this was a great way to spend time together as a family. In time, they began making up stories for escape rooms and naturally began looking into starting their own.

Locked In Escapes 1

Dawn and Ken, together with daughter Brandy McDaniel and son-in-law Brent McDaniel, opened Locked-In Escapes this spring with two rooms and just debuted a third. Visit their website for a description and the stories. You can make reservations online and you really should make a reservation in advance. They are currently booked two weeks out.

Locked In Escapes 4

And what of my group? Did we get caught and spend time in a medieval prison? We did not! We solved the puzzle with seconds to go and escaped in one piece!

Baby Chicken Video – The Dust Bath

Baby chickens are pretty adorable. In this episode of Baby Chicken Video, four three-week old chicks play in a pile of chick crumbles (their food) that has been dumped out in their cage.

Why did I pour their food out? Because birds aren’t very hygienic and they leave droppings in the feeder. They’ve done this so many times that the bedding is basically a layer of chick crumbles instead of pine shavings, but they are perfectly happy with this.

Watch as one chick dust bathes in the food while the others eat off of her feathers.

https://youtu.be/xknK0TGnL0g

Colorado Collaboration: How Lemongrass Spa Grew Out of Pine, CO

I’ve just washed my hands for the 15th time this morning. It’s not quite 10AM. It’s part of a life with animals, but my hands get eczema every winter. Does this happen to everyone who keeps chickens? Probably.

Chicken1

Last winter, my friend Misty started selling Lemongrass Spa products. I liked that they were made out of ingredients I could recognize, but I’m always reluctant to use products made outside this state when so many great products are made right here in Colorado.

“Nice,” I said. “Where is it made?”

“Oh!”, she exclaimed. “You’ll like this. It’s made in Pine, CO!”

I was hooked.

In my endless search for something to stop my feet from itching just as I’m drifting off to sleep, I bought a foot spa kit.

Lemongrass Spa Foot Spa Kit

You know what makes feet stop itching? Soaking! So I developed a strange habit of soaking my feet while working at my desk. I do the whole routine, from the soaking to scrubbing with the walnut hull & salt scrub to slathering peppermint foot balm on my feet. And then I put on socks. The socks are important, even though the kit doesn’t come with them. They keep the balm on your feet long enough to soak it in.

Now, back to the hand-washing problem.

Since the foot kit worked so well, I figured I’d try something for my hands. Here is the routine:

I don't think there is any actual soap in here. It's very gentle.

I don’t think there is any actual soap in here. It’s very gentle.

Then I use this. The scented ones are nice, but I prefer unscented because the cats hate when I pet scents onto them.

Then I use this. The scented ones are nice, but I prefer unscented because the cats hate when I pet scents onto them.

At night I use these. The Body Creme is an unscented heavy moisturizer, the nail balm is an unscented oil mix that prevents hang nails and the Healing Elements Balm is good for the eczema spots.

At night I use these. The Body Creme is an unscented heavy moisturizer, the Nail Balm is an unscented oil mix that prevents hang nails and the Healing Elements Balm is good for the eczema spots.

It’s working. I won’t say I have no eczema, but it’s a lot less than most years!

I don’t know how they make this stuff, but I do know where they make it. Heidi Leist started this business in 2002 in the mountain town of Bailey, CO. Her idea was that she could make spa products in her home to sell and then she could stay home with her baby.

A lot of people have ideas like that, but Heidi did it! She sold the products by demonstrating them at home parties, like she’d seen people do with products from big corporations. The model worked and when she was selling enough that she couldn’t do it all herself, she stuck with it and started signing up consultants.

You can tell this is a Colorado company. Where else do people take spa products camping?

You can tell this is a Colorado company. Where else do people take spa products camping?

It’s not a bad deal, all in all. Consultants can make $400 a month by doing a party a week. I signed up the Chickens and we do online parties (since they aren’t allowed to leave the yard.)

Lemongrass sells makeup too. I started using it now that I spend as much time in business meetings as on farms. It doesn't get all my clothes, but I can still get it off easily at night.

Lemongrass sells makeup too. I started using it now that I spend as much time in business meetings as on farms. It doesn’t come off on my hands all day, but I can still get it off easily at night. It also doesn’t have a lot of preservatives, as you can see.

Many of the products are still made in Pine, although the company is big enough that it has another facility in Florida now. The headquarters are still here and we’re planning a visit for spring.

If you’re looking for gentle, mainly organic skin care and makeup contact us. You can use your skin care dollars to get a great local product and support the Hungry Chicken Homestead Chickens at the same time!

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copyright 2017 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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Learn to make simple body products – or buy them from Simple Body

For some reason, I know a lot of people who can’t sleep. I don’t know if it’s politics or the dry climate or too much screen time, but they are up late. I’d like to use the first part of this post to recommend that they visit Simple Body for this product:

Simple Body FAce Serum

I haven’t actually tried it yet since the store isn’t open at 1AM, but it sounds like a really good idea.

I went to visit Simple Body to talk to Jewels Burdick, owner, tester and product-maker. Jewels is actually a professional graphic designer and if you’ve seen websites from Superfine Designs, she designed them.

“My whole life has been chaos,” she says, explaining how she came to be running a popular graphic design studio and a retail shop for which she makes all the products by hand.

Simple Body Deodorant

How Simple Body Got Started

In 2010, when Jewels was starting her fast-growing design studio, her mother had a health scare and they realized it was probably due to a common chemical, aluminum chloride. Jewels started looking for alternatives to the cosmetic product in which it is usually found … anti-perspirant.

Simple Body Deodorant 2

It’s easy enough to buy a deodorant that doesn’t have aluminum chloride in it, but it’s not anti-perspirant and they often don’t work as well as one would like. She tried 15 different brands, all expensive, and none of them worked.

What to Do When Nothing Works

What do resourceful people do when they can’t find an acceptable product? That’s right! They make their own. Jewels started making her own deodorant. It’s made from natural ingredients and melts easily on the skin. It also melts easily in the container too, in the summer, which is why you can buy it in a stick or in a jar.

Simple Body Lotion

What to Avoid

Jewels recommends a book called the Green Beauty Guide. It lists 100 ingredients that are toxic and helps you know what to avoid. Since it’s so hard to avoid all 100, Jewels started making other products like lotions, massage oils and baby care products.

Simple Body massage oil

It’s pretty amazing how she runs both businesses together. “Growing this business is important to me because I want to educate people,” she explains. “A lot of people don’t know! I also want to make a product that is affordable for everyone. It’s more about getting it into the  hands of people who care and are looking and can’t afford other alternatives.”

Simple Body scrub

It’s hard not to admire a person who works so hard for the benefit of others. It’s no easy task running a service business. I know this for a fact since I run a content writing business. Service work is detailed, it requires a lot of focus and clients can be exacting.

I can’t help but be a little awed that Jewels does all that and still finds a way to make time to make natural body care accessible to others.

Visit the website for classes and learn how you can make your own non-toxic body products straight from the expert! Or do what I do in these busy days and just visit the shop.
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Note to the FCC: Jewels gave me a tube of her Healing Balm to try. It’s lovely, but my favorite product of hers is actually her clove deodorant, which I bought with money. Jewels also refers clients to my content writing business on occasion, but this doesn’t really affect my thoughts about deodorant.

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Three Reasons to Love Direct Sales (Please Don’t Hate Me)

I once met a doctor who badly wanted to sell a particular product. He had done a lot of research to find a supplement that would help the brains of people with a particular disease and finally, after scouring the medical world, he had found it. But there was a problem.

It was sold through direct sales, also known as multi-level marketing, and this doctor, like so many people, hated direct sales.

This was such an obstacle that the doctor almost didn’t offer the product to his patients. He almost let this chance to help them go by simply because of the sales method.

Why was this such an obstacle?

Why Do People Hate Direct Sales So Much?

This is an unscientific assessment, but as far as I can tell from observation, there are two reasons.

  • Sometimes people who sell direct sales products are inexperienced salespeople and they are come off as aggressive. They don’t understand yet that selling is a matter of finding people who want what you have, not convincing people who don’t want it to buy it.
  • Some direct sales products are kind of … absurd. I’m not going to single anything out, but I’ve been the target of direct sales people trying to sell what we used to refer to as “snake oil”. One product essentially claimed that it was vital to human health even though none of the things it “cured” had any symptoms and the consumer would have no evidence that it was doing anything.

All of this has made me very nervous, but direct sales has some interesting advantages.

Good Direct Sales Companies Offer a Lot of Education

Education is a critical part of self-sufficiency. It costs more than most people can afford to reinvent the wheel and experiment until they figure out how to make a living. A good direct sales company teaches you how to be a salesperson and, even better, they utilize the relationships between recruiter and recruited to offer mentoring.

In other words, your friend who signed you up is the same person who helps you learn to do this for yourself and the community of consultants support each other.

I admit that some companies are doing this badly or perhaps some people aren’t taking advantage of the educational resources available to them. Nonetheless, the opportunity to learn a marketable skill should not be sneezed at.

Serious Sellers Can Make a Living for Themselves

I learned something interesting after I signed up. People who approach direct sales seriously and who choose their product carefully can make a living. If it’s a good product and people want it then the seller isn’t that much different than any other salesperson except that they run their own show. They’re not working for anyone but themselves.

I take this seriously. Many smart people dislike or are not suited to working for someone else. A person who struggles in an office may do very well on her own with the right resources and support.

The Path To Promotion Is Very Clear

When you work for a big corporation, no matter how hard HR tries to build a clear path to promotion, it’s still very political. Sometimes your boss just doesn’t see you as promotable and sometimes there is simply no opportunity for promotion. I can’t speak for other direct sales companies, but the one I signed up takes the politics out of promotion. If your sales reach a certain level and you sign up a certain number of new salespeople, you get promoted. End of story.

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How did I learn this? I signed up with a direct sales company that makes a product I love right here in my state. Despite direct sales’ reputation, I’m not sorry. I’m learning how to sell a product without annoying my friends & family, spending time with people I like and getting to do something that doesn’t involve sitting in a chair for 8 hours at at time.

And once I’ve gotten what is essentially free training, I can use it to sell anything. My “Colorado Local” store dream is one step closer to reality.

To sum this up, I’m not telling you to quit your job and sign up with a direct sales company, but next time someone asks you to come to a jewelry party or participate in a Facebook nail wrap party, try not to roll your eyes. By all means, say no if you’re not interested in the product, but if it’s something you like, give it a try.

Your purchases from that individual help build a world where independence is really possible, a world where people can support their families without spending half their lives in a cubicle.

It seems to me that the real obstacles to opportunity haven’t changed. Can you get the education? Do you have community support? If so, then you have the power to choose how to live.

Choose wisely, do your best and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much there is to be grateful for.

***

copyright 2017 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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How the Chickens Set Out To Start A Colorado Local Store

“I hate MLMs,” said my friend, referring to multilevel marketing companies like Nerium and Amway.

“Uh oh,” I thought. “How am I going to do this without making enemies…”

Let me explain … Hungry Chicken Homestead doesn’t just exist to be a Chicken Old Age Home. It’s our way of finding the middle ground of economic survival. We’re too exhausted to work in the corporate world anymore, but we have resources and want to support ourselves. This website and our corresponding content marketing business, Writer for Hire, keep us off the government welfare rolls and out of the cubicle.

We like to do this in the most self-sufficient way possible, which means having goals and values that help us treat people right.

  • Self-reliance: Take responsibility for ourselves and our needs
  • Humility: Don’t let our egos take us over
  • Simplicity: Don’t make things too complicated and overwhelming
  • Integrity: Treat people thoughtfully, kindly and respectfully while remaining true to our values
  • Modesty: Don’t go hog-wild with ambition and take more credit than we deserve
  • Curiosity: Find out about a thing before judging it

In this case, we were curious and we had a need for improved self-reliance.

Writer for Hire is a great work-from-home business, but unless I want to work with corporations (which I don’t), I can’t charge enough to produce high quality work while supporting the household.

The solution? Product sales.

We promote Colorado businesses, right? Why not give them a platform to make more sales on Hungry Chicken Homestead? That’s been on our list of things we want to do for quite a while and now we’ve begun work on it.

It will be called the Hungry Chicken Homestead Colorado Local Store and you can follow it on Facebook. 

We’re negotiating with local authors, jewelry-makers, jam-makers and others to make this happen and our local Design Break Studios are working on building us a virtual store.

Now, back to the MLMs where we started.

The first product we can really make available is Lemongrass Spa. Lemongrass Spa makes soap, makeup and some other stuff in Pine, CO. Interestingly, it’s popular on the East Coast. How do they sell it?

Multi-level marketing. In other words, Uh oh.

Stay tuned…

Part II: Three Reasons to Love Direct Sales (Please Don’t Hate Me)

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Ranching on the Grasslands: Miele Farms

I burst out laughing when Julie Miele told me how she got the cattle that started her ranch, Miele Farms.

She and her then-husband had bought a place out in the country. “He bought me some cows for my birthday,” she recounts.

miele-farm-cattle-run

I’ve heard a lot of stories about ranches, but Julie is the first person I ever met whose ranch started out with a gift.

It was the right gift. “It was the first time in my life I felt like I found something I was really good at,” she says of raising the cattle on her own ranch to her own standards.

Julie learned to raise cattle in a more commercial manner than she likes. Today she raises them on grass with no vaccines. The herd grazes a pasture and then moves to a new pasture when it’s time.

“We watch a lot of the growth cycles and the grass cycles. We don’t let them eat to the ground,” she explains. “For us, it’s all about watching the grass.” Her herd are grass fed and grass finished. “We want them to graze as much as possible.”

I wondered how she knows when they are ready to process and got an interesting answer.

“They’re done when they look done. We’re not a factory farm. It’s not an exact science. You have to be patient and flexible.”

Miele Farms Calf

“Who is ‘we’?”, I asked.

Julie and her children are the only people working this ranch. I sat back a moment in awe.

She forgot to mention Flat Stanley.

Miele Farms doesn’t just raise cattle. The family also raises pastured chicken, lamb and hogs.

The Mieles have three sows and a boar. They migrate down to the creek on her property to graze and play in the water. Even the 700 lb. boar plays in the creek, which must be quite a sight.

The other animals run and play on their pastures too. Sometimes the family will witness a calf playing with its mother.

“Nothing is better for me than seeing animals being happy and living out their lives. I feel very honored.”

Are you as struck as I was by Julie’s acceptance of the cycle of life? People often put some emotional distance between themselves and the animals that will be processed for food. Farming and ranching are vocations that put a person in direct contact with the mysteries of life and death, and it’s a bit much for most of us.

We name the laying hens, but not the meat birds. We watch the cattle in awe, but we try not to develop close relationships with them.

Julie somehow dispenses with all that. She gives the animals names, honoring the individuality of each one. It occurs to me that it takes pretty awesome strength to show that kind of humility. She doesn’t try to remake the cycle of life by pretending those animals are simply commodities or by pretending that being alive doesn’t require reliance on others.

“I know I have given them the best life possible. I know they’re happy and every day that they were here, they were happy,” she responds when I ask her how she does this.

Are you familiar with that part of the Bible where Rebecca asks about the babies who are already fighting in her womb, “If this is the case, why do I even exist?”

Julie answers that question every day. We exist because we have the power to spread the light of kindness, even in the dark places.

Note to the FTC: Julie tried to give me three broiler chickens to eat, but I thought that was too big of a gift. These are hand-raised, hand-processed pastured chickens and they were delicious! You’ll see some ads for Miele Farms in the Hungry Chicken Homestead newsletter as a trade.

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copyright 2016 Hungry Chicken Homestead

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