How can you build your own business that lets you live the life you want? How can you make a living out of your passions and quit your day job?
These are two of the most popular questions among people working online via blogs or websites today. They are also two of the most common questions I have received over the last few years.
Who should you learn from in this case? Why not the people who have done what you want to do and created their own small business empires online?
In this review I will take a closer look at Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Building Kit. This is a course based mainly around case studies of people that are already running their own small and successful businesses online (they earn earn $50,000 to $150,000 a year) and a sort of email school that runs a whole year – yes, 365 lessons, one for each day – that will guide you to building your own empire/business.
A couple of months ago I took a look at the Unconventional Guide to Working For Yourself and spurred on by how much I like that relatively short, concise and no-nonsense guide by Chris, I decided to have a closer look at this longer and more in-depth course. It was a very good decision.
Chris himself has been self-employed for his whole adult life and has set up a very cool and fascinating lifestyle for himself. He helps people live unconventional lives and to change the world through his website, his unconventional digital guides and The Art of Non-Conformity book.
At the same time he is travelling the world and his very ambitious goal is to have visited every country before his 35:th birthday on the 7:th of April, 2013. Things seem to be going very well as he has already visited 151 out of 192 countries. Many of the interviews and other stuff in this course were recorded or written while Chris travelled the world.
While The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself was a concise guide focused on helping people make 200 dollars or more extra each month the Empire Building Kit is a much bigger course aimed at helping you who are serious about building a lifestyle business where you work for yourself with what you are passionate about.
So, what do I like about this course? Well, let me share ten things.
1. Not just about blogging or the making money online.
One problem with case studies from successful business people online is that their business often in some way is about information on blogging or how to make money online.
In this course Chris has broadened the perspective and talks to a murder mystery event host, makers and sellers of fine wine, a creator of art for Jewish weddings, a professional dog walker and many other owners of fascinating small businesses. This does not only lend the course a certain freshness but also exposes you to a number of different people, perspectives and ideas about businesses.
2. Grounded in reality, not get rich quick schemes.
Chris does not claim that you will start making thousands of dollars this month. Instead it is about taking one step each day for a year and improving gradually.
3. Realistic diversity in the case studies.
Some of the business owners made a lot of money in the first year and for some it took several years to make a full-time income so there is a lot of diversity. I think this is a very realistic picture of how things work in real life.
4. Really helpful insights into success and failure.
The case studies show what it has taken for people to get where they are now both financially and in terms of success and popularity of their businesses. You get to know the most important steps you need to take and the ones you do not need to take or worry about. I also am very fond of the thoughts about things you may not expect and how things work in reality for someone who is working for himself or herself.
Knowing things like these makes it easier to make the transition both practically and emotionally from your regular job and environment.
5. One lesson a day helps you to create a habit of taking action and keeps you going.
This is perhaps the best thing about this course for many aspiring business owners. One email a day creates a habit of taking small steps forward each day and gets you used to putting in a bit of work every day towards your goal. And it also helps you to keep going month after month and to develop the essential habit of focusing on just doing one thing at a time.
This pacing let’s someone with school or a day job spend a bit of time each day working on the latest lesson and learning and taking action, step by step over 365 days.
6. Filled of practical tips.
The case studies and the emails from Chris share no-nonsense tips that will actually help you. They show you the real tools and strategies that these people use and what has worked to make money and what has not. This is not some vague advice or stuff based on theories, but what has actually worked. Plus, you get a lot of the hard-earned wisdom these people have amassed over the years and through failures, mistakes and successes.
And in many of the email lessons Chris discusses the case studies and expands upon them. And shares great stories about when things went really bad and how they solved such problems. This is really valuable.
You can cut your learning curve a lot by listening to what these people have to say.
7. You get real details, even the specific income.
Via the case-studies you get to learn how the successful small business owners have set up their business. And by learn I mean many details such as even how much many of them make each month or year.
8. I am learning a lot.
Even though I have been doing this for over 4 years I learned many helpful things from this course so far.
I sure wish I had know about many of these things and in what order to do them a few years ago since it would have saved me so much time, energy, frustration and trouble. And I’m glad I am learning more about them today because this course is teaching me a lot about how other people who are getting even better results than me go about things and how I can learn from them.
9. Even more additional video and audio lessons.
I have gone through over two months of the emails so far. And in that time I have had access to a webinar that ran for almost an hour where Chris answers a lot of questions from hopeful empire builders. And a one hour long audio interview with Jonathan Fields (author of the excellent book Career Renegade) on the very important topic of how to know if there is a market for what you want to sell.
10. Sympathetic and motivating.
Just like with The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself Chris maintains a light, sometimes funny and very sympathetic down-to-earth tone in his writing and in the interviews with the empire owners. I really love that because it makes me more open to what is being said and the content becomes not only helpful but also an enjoyable and more motivating experience.
- No workbook. I’m not sure if we’ll receive a printable workbook in later emails but I think it could be useful to help people find where their passions/profit meet and to find clarity and to take even better action on the advice given.
- Kinda mediocre quality on some of the videos. Since these are conversations recorded between webcams the quality can be a bit grainy and choppy. Not a big issue for me though, since the sound is excellent. Plus, it’s just people talking to each other on webcams, not some great and spectacular show.
So those are my pros and cons about this course.
Who is this course for?
No guide fits everyone’s needs. So…
This guide is for you if…
You really want to work for yourself, work hard but also smart and patiently to make your dream real. Or you want to find a way to escape the 9-5 job and set up a business online that allows you to shape your own life and lifestyle in the way that you want.
This guide is aimed at beginners, intermediates like me and perhaps even some of the experts. And if you already have a business online that makes a couple of hundred dollars per month then the course can help you to boost your income.
This guide is not for you if…
You want some magic pill that will make it possible to make a ton of money in very little time and with pretty much no effort. This is not for you if you don't want to think for yourself because this course is about what you want out of your life.
The Empire Building Kit is available in 3 Editions
Depending on what edition of this program you get – Emperor-in-training, Hail Caesar! or Alexander the Great – you also get a varying number of case studies, video interviews and other content. Everyone gets the same 365 emails course though.
The Emperor-in-Training edition provides a lot of PDF case studies (10) and video interviews (5) though. If you get the Hail Caesar! edition you a get a few more case studies and interviews. But more importantly, you get the 43-Step Launch Checklist that can help you to make more money during your next product or service launch.
Sure, this edition cost 100 dollars more. But I plan on using these 43 steps from now on and think that I can make back those 100 dollars five or ten times over during this year by following the steps in that checklist.
The links above are affiliate links but I do not recommend anything that I do not find incredibly useful.