Is this your block to starting making money without a job?

I’ve been teaching people how to make money doing something they love without needing a job for almost a decade now. And I know that anyone who’s determined to do it can make it happen.

And yet often I see people get stuck along the way. Perhaps you are too? What I’ve discovered is that the problem is usually not some practical obstacle that’s tough to get around but much more likely a misunderstanding of how the process really works.

Here are the 3 biggest blocks I see people come up against. Which one is yours?

1: Can’t find an idea

I know we’ve been told that the idea is everything in starting a business or making money but in actual fact you don’t need a wildly original idea and besides, the best ideas come out of experimentation. Find a good enough idea to start with, and you’ll come up with loads of others along the way.

You can watch my video on the topic to understand more.

2: Can’t commit to an idea

Even when you have an idea you like, a lot of people are beset by doubts about whether it will work so they end up not doing anything. What you need to know is how to create the minimum version of your idea and try it out with people – then you can see whether people get interested in it and perhaps even pay for it. If they do, you know you’re on the right track. If not, you can fix, improve or change your idea until it does.

3: Can’t get started

Once you have an idea you can begin in a reduced form, you might still be struggling to see how to get it started, particularly if you are short of time and/or funds.

But instead of putting it on the back burner, create a 30 Day Play Project that will allow you to produce something, no matter how small, that you can share with others. You might write and publish a handful of blog posts on the topic you’re interested in. Or go do your first small project for a friend or colleague. Or promote your first event on This allows you to find out if you enjoy doing the thing, and it moves you forward even when you’re short of time.

The results from such a simple approach can be dramatic – clarity on the things you enjoy doing, tangible results you can point at, greater self-confidence, and often the kind of serendipitous opportunities that only arise when you start putting yourself out into the world.

You might even end up making some money sooner than you expected as have some of the participants on the Screw Work Let’s Play 30 Day Challenge (where I teach this process)


Join the discussion

What’s getting in your way? I’d love to know. Leave a comment below…

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • brownsdon

    Great list John. One of my biggest blocks was thinking that I had to do everything myself. Now I have several projects up and running, and it’s thanks to telling people what I’m up to, and working together with them.

  • Hi John, for me, doing an idea doesn’t give me lots of ideas. I’m a trader, so unlike creators I don’t come up with ideas so easily!

  • Number 2 is my biggest block John. I get lots of ideas and then find it difficult to decide what to commit to, or I start acting on one and then I get distracted by a new idea. The 30DC definitely helped me to commit to an idea and act on it, and it was surprising how soon people wanted to pay me for what I was doing.

  • johnsw


  • johnsw

    That’s true that you might not be as fast to come up with ideas (you’re better at getting them done!) but do you not find that being out in the world exploring things, researching things, making things happen brings you more ideas than sitting at home with a blank piece of paper?

  • johnsw

    Ah yes that’s a whole other skill – one that you are good at Richard. I should get you to write a guest blog post one day!

  • Yes, doing things is definitely better than just thinking about them. Thanks to your encouragement to try things I’ve now got much more information about the kinds of things I enjoy, I just need to get together with one of my ideas friends to brainstorm for new ideas to use this information!

  • Eli

    I attended the 30DC two years ago, and ended up by only setting up a vague blog page with no posts on it. And I’ve never posted anything anymore. But this led me to open another blog 5 months later that started to get popular day after day. I then turned my 30DC blog into a place where I display my photography. And now I’m trying to work out what I really want and make it happen.
    You see? From a blank blog to tons of ideas. “Serendipitous opportunities that only arise when you start putting yourself out into the world”.

  • Marge

    It’s kinda more complicated for me, but not uncommon I suppose. I am in a job that makes me so unhappy and exhausted, that even when I have some spare time after I leave the office, I can’t find any strength to work on any additional projects. I just come home, take a shower, feed my cats and go to bed. Same during weekend, only for whole 2 days. Good thing I’ve resigned from this job today, but there are many people who just cannot.

  • johnsw

    Congrats Marge! Yes it’s difficult to make much progress when your job is so exhausting. Good luck with what’s next…

  • johnsw

    Ha! Love it, Eli

  • Marge

    Thanks, I have number of ideas to try out, including expanding my handmade jewellery business, I think you’ve inspired me to start it in the first place 🙂

  • johnsw