The 3 Criteria We Used to Decide On Our Business

March 4, 2013

About a year and a half ago, Claudia and I decided I was going to quit my job. Our son was just born and Claudia cut her hours back to stay home with him. This meant our income was not covering our expenses. We needed to do something different, we didn’t have a choice.

Me with our now one and a half year old, Jude

Me with our now one and a half year old, Jude

As we watched our savings deplete each month to cover the difference between our income and our expenses, we put all our options on the table.

First, we trimmed our expenses to the bare minimum. Then we considered me looking for a higher paying job. However, that seemed like it would be a big challenge and it wasn’t what I really wanted to do anyway.

What I really wanted to do was something entrepreneurial. I had read a bunch of books on starting your own business and was part of a great entrepreneurial school, but I still wasn’t sure how to start.

I don’t think we really knew it at the time, but in hindsight we can see how we were looking at our options through three basic criteria.

Our 3 criteria

1. Personality and passions – How am I wired and what do I most enjoy?

2.  Skills – How can I tangibly add value to others?

3. Rapid profitability – What can I do and make money with in the next 3 months?

What this looked like for me

1. I’m more task oriented and enjoy systems and methods. Among other things, I have a passion for entrepreneurship.

2. I have a degree in music education and am licensed to teach in schools. I also have experience giving private music lessons.

3. Given my background, I had a very clear idea of how I could jump into starting my own music school and get to profitability from day one.

After considering these three criteria, we decided to make the leap and go the entrepreneurial route rather than looking for a higher paying job. We knew it’d be a risk, but we felt like it was our best option.

Is this the best approach? I don’t know, but it has worked for us. While our business grew three times slower than projected, it’s going very well. It’s hard to believe, but I’m making more money now and working half the hours I was at my job. We feel very blessed.

Do we have it all figured out? No, not at all. We’re still trying to figure it out like everyone else. While I’m making more money now, you have to remember Claudia’s income dropped way off when our son was born so there was a big deficit to fill. There are days when we still don’t know how everything is going to work out.

However, we push forward knowing when we step out in faith, things can start to fall into place. We keep our successes out in front of us and are confident of a bright future.

What about you? Have you ever had your back up against a wall, so to speak, in your entrepreneurial pursuits? What did you do and how did you decide on it?


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  • Reply Jody Berkey March 4, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I’m glad you guys took a leap of faith and that you’re enjoying the experience.  We wouldn’t have met otherwise.  I like how you keep the successes out in front of you. It’s easy to can caught up in the uncertainty and get overwhelmed. 

    We finally, finally constructed a vision board this past weekend.  Steve put our goals and plans on electronic mind maps, but we decided to move those plans to something more visual and ever-present.  We took down our dining room table and turned the room into our a planning and vision center.  

    We certainly feel like our backs are against a wall right now.  If no unexpected expenses crop up each month, we just have just enough to cover our regular expenses, but we’re also working on paying off the credit card debt we got into when ends didn’t meet over the last few months.   Our upcoming Kickstarter campaign for MyTri will be a huge game changer for us… one way or another…. but hopefully in a positive direction.  

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm


      I love the sound of a dream and vision center. Very cool! We need to see some photos, we might want to borrow some of your ideas. 🙂

      Keep at it, guys! You’re laying the groundwork for great things to happen. When does the Kickstarter campaign start?

      • Reply Jody Berkey March 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm

        I’ll post a picture for you. It has become a good tool to teach Elijah the value of goals.

        We’ll start the Kickstarter within the next month or so. We haven’t started production or storyboarding yet. Not enough hours in the day. You know that feeling, right? 🙂

        • Reply Michael Good March 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm

          Great picture, Jody! I love how Elijah is getting into it too.

          Keep at guys! You’re doing a great job and making great progress in spite of the challenges.

  • Reply Ann Musico March 4, 2013 at 7:31 am

    You guys never cease to amaze and encourage me!  I think what you’ve accomplished so far is awesome and I have no doubt you will rise (pun intended!) to ever higher levels of success!

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Ann! I think that’s what we’re all working on doing, right?

  • Reply Michael Wright March 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Very upfront and candid post, Michael!  We’ll go to the grave not figuring it ALL out, won’t we – but we’ll be much better people for trying to do all we can while we’re here!  I’ve thought and explored via FAA about being an entrepreneur and the path isn’t so evident for me.   Often when I run across someone running their own business, I ask them questions – some are glad, some are not, but bottom line is, they are doing it.  Doing what it takes – and so are you!  Well done.

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks, Michael. It’s definitely been a journey, but well worth it. I’d do it all over again if I had the choice. 

      You’re totally right. We’re not going to have it all figured out, ever. That’s one of the things I learned from successful entrepreneurs. I do think though there are plateaus and times when you become more grounded and stable. 

      You mentioned some are glad, some are not. Do you mean glad that they’re running their own business? 

      • Reply Michael Wright March 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm

        I’m speaking of some that made a go of it and don’t exactly meet with the grant success years after going at it.  Seems like alot of those men I talk to were in construction and lost it all.  But I think some  folks are just made to be entrepreneurs and having a “job” would be less stable because they simply would be miserable and have a lousy performance.  However, there are some that have zero education and hit it big in various areas. Sometimes I wonder if our higher education hurts us from certain angles.

        My dad owned a grocery/convenience type store for 30 years and though I don’t think he would have had it any other way, we had many years we barely made it, basically lived at that store year round, so my mother always had to work, plus help run the story after work.  It didn’t seem like a winning combination for us 3 kids to be chained to one place for 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week just to “get by”.   Actually, my dad urged us to go to college and get a job because of it.  He never made it through school, so I guess he figured that was his only way.  Thankfully, with the internet and other means, that brick and morter store model is no longer necessary.

        I think it helps if you’re doing something you enjoy and can make a decent living at it.  I’m curious – how did your eBay guitar venture go from several months back?  Did it sell?

        • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm


          I think you’re right. Sometimes the higher education does seem to hold some people back. It’s interesting, I often hear stories of these great entrepreneurs who drop out of high school or college and are now super successful in business. 

          Your story of you dad owning the store is very interesting. I remember you writing about it before. It sounds like it was quite a sacrifice and I can see why your dad wanted to protect you kids from that type of lifestyle. 

          The guitar did sell on ebay. It took about 2 months and I made money on it, but I haven’t pursued selling any more. I’m not sure what it is, it’s just that I can’t get too excited about doing it. Incidentally, I sold that guitar to a person in Australia named Dave Matthews. 

  • Reply Matt Horwitz March 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Great post Michael!  Awesome that you took a leap.  Reaching your family goals and feeling fulfilled is inevitable.  Keep rockin’ man !

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks, Matt! How have the LLC sites been going? The PA site is looking sharp, by the way!

      • Reply Matt Horwitz March 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm

        Thanks Michael.  Florida is pretty much complete and working on Texas and a few others.  Also starting the national site and helping people that way too.  

  • Reply Arludwig March 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Last January I went out on my own and while I did not organize my options exactly like you, the vein of thought was the same. My hubby maintains his career, and having me go”on my own” is not new for us… however, the venture we began last year was COMPLETELY new. My “back against the wall” right now is making the choice to stay where I am or bite off more…. to bite off more I need to “spend.” So, I am in the process of making a timeline for the extra expenses….. and setting goals to earn that money effectively.

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 9:43 pm


      You’re talking about your business consulting, right? It sounds like you’re debating whether or not to take it to the next level now. If you do that, what are some of the investments you’d be making? 

      I think it’s great how you’re doing this and Char raves about you all the time. I’m sure I could benefit from your services like she has!

  • Reply Tom Dixon March 4, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Your story is why I keep doing what I’m doing – you made a plan and stuck with it. Awesome!

    • Reply Michael Good March 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Yes, Tom. You can do it! There’s nothing magical about it, we were simply determined to make it work. By the way, I love the resume tune up idea! How did you come about that idea? It reminds me of the free music classes I gave at libraries. That’s how I got the majority of our first students. 

      • Reply Tom Dixon March 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        I got sick of fighting it! I think a resume is the wrong place to start – but you have to meet people where they are. It is a great funnel to what I think is the right first step – one-on-one career coaching. I remember reading in $100 Startup to “give them the fish” and this is my attempt. My challenge now is getting it down to something I can turn in 30 minutes, at the price I’m charging I can’t spend the hour or so I do now. I really appreciate the feedback!

        • Reply Michael Good March 5, 2013 at 9:10 pm


          I remember reading that in $100 Startup as well. People spend money on what they want and not always on what they need. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply Alex Barker March 4, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Great post Michael,
    I find myself asking “What is my passion?” and “What drives me?” I find that it’s starting new business ideas and eliminating debt. 
    For example, started a blog (The Medicine Cabinet), but found that my partner wasn’t interested in monetizing it (which is okay). 
    I saw a post from you months ago about doing surveys online. I researched options and found Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income. He inspired me to build a niche site and you inspired survey profits at CashCrate (http://www.cashcrate.com/4540252 -referral link) (yes, shamelessly promoting). 
    I’m proud to say that I’ve made almost $25 in 4 days (97% Cash Crate)! Once we get the check in the mail, it’s going straight to groceries 🙂 
    thanks for the inspiration 😀

    • Reply Michael Good March 5, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Wow, that’s great, Alex! Yes, we’ve done quite a bit of mystery shopping over the past year to subliment our income. We never did anything online like Cash Crate though. Looks like a neat idea. 

      I’m curios as to have much time you put in for the $25. I know there’s probably a learning curve. There definitely was for mystery shopping! Some of our first jobs we may have made $4 a hour when it was all said and done. However, we were able to get a consistant $15 an hour (up to $20 or $25 if we were more selective and didn’t take many jobs) once we got the hang of it. It wasn’t a ton, but we were able to make up to an extra $800 a month when we needed to. 

      So, are your plans to not monazite the niche site for now?

  • Reply Alana Mokma March 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    what I appreciate most about this post is your honesty – you shared that you are still trying to figure things out and your business grew three times slower than projected. Believe it or not, this is inspiring to me. Some people (me) have an expectation that things are going to work out magically the first time around. I’ve been listening to Seth Godin’s “Poke the Box” and it’s giving me courage to be okay with failing a couple times.

    I cannot recall a time recently when I’ve had my back up against the wall (financially/job speaking). Sometimes I wish for that, and consider instigating it, simply to loosen me from the job rut I am in.

    • Reply Michael Good March 8, 2013 at 8:41 am

      I was one of those people, Alana. However, I’m realizing that as I try more things, some work, some don’t. Then there are also some things that work but I realize once I get into it, I don’t want to do them anyway.
      Keep putting stuff out there. And I do think instigating a little urgency is sometimes good. 🙂

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