I have a special treat to share with you today — an interview with the fabulous Tammy Strobel, who blogs over at Rowdy Kittens! As many of you know, Tammy left her day job earlier this year to start her own tiny business. She recently gathered up her experience, advice, and some inspirational case studies into a new ebook, Smalltopia, for those who’d like to do the same.
Francine: Tell us about Smalltopia, and who can benefit from reading it.
Tammy: Smalltopia will benefit anyone who is interested in leaving a traditional 9-5 job. It’s full of tips, tools, and strategies that will help folks create personal freedom through a very small business. The guide is broken up into three sections: Smalltopia Philosophy, Smalltopia Essentials, and Smalltopia Case Studies.
The part I’m most excited about is the case study section. It features stories from more than a dozen folks that run the gamut of experience. From those who are just getting ready to break up with their day job, to crazy successful small business owners. The list of rockstar contributors include: Leo Babauta, Chris Guillebeau, Jessica Reeder, Chris O’Byrne, Russ Roca, Laura Crawford, Karol Gajda, Chloe Adeline, Victoria Vargas, Karen Yaeger, Jules Clancy, Heather Levin, Matt Cheuvront, Tyler Tervooren, and Everett Bogue!
Francine: How did living a minimalist lifestyle help you start your own small business?
Tammy: Living a simple, minimalist lifestyle gave me the financial freedom to leave my day job and start my own business in February 2010. In essence, I was able to cut a lot of unnecessary expenses and take a big risk. If I still had a car payment and a huge two bedroom apartment, there is no way I would have been able to build a profitable business around my blog.
Francine: What has been the greatest challenge, and greatest reward, in your experience as an entrepreneur?
Tammy: Overcoming fear!
When I start getting scared, I write and think about where the feeling is coming from. Usually my fear has no basis in reality and I do my best to push past the emotion. I’m incredibly lucky because my partner is supportive of my business goals and I have a few amazing mentors who have urged me to pursue my dreams. Whenever I get stuck, I can count on my mentors and comments from rowdy readers to remind me that what I’m doing is important.
Francine: Can you give us some tips on setting up a minimalist home office?
Tammy: My office is very very simple. All I need is my laptop, a table, chair, moleskin journal, and a pen. I either work at the kitchen table, in coffee shops, or at the library. So I don’t have a traditional office set-up.
For those of you who want to have a dedicated office space in your little home, try implementing some of these tips:
1. Say goodbye to paper piles.
2. Recycle excess paper.
3. Organize items you use frequently.
4. Invest in a minimal desk.
5. And finally keep your office simple and organized.
Francine: What’s it really like to be your own boss? Tell us about a typical workday in the life of Tammy Strobel.
Tammy: I don’t have a “typical” day. Sometimes I stay at home. Other days, I’ll cafe hop or work at Powell’s for a few hours. I love supporting local businesses. For example, Portland is know for it’s yummy Stumptown coffee and I go local cafe’s that serve the good stuff.
Every morning, I write down a list of my daily intentions. My intentions include 3 to 4 things that I need to get done. I also make time for yoga, biking or walking. The beauty of working from home is that I can work when I feel creative. Yesterday, I was having a creativity block and decided to unplug and go for a walk. As soon as I stepped out of my house and into the park the ideas started flowing and I started writing in my journal.
Francine: Do you think purging our clutter can help us think more clearly and creatively?
Tammy: Yes, yes, and yes! Without so much clutter in my life, I spend less time cleaning and more time working on creative endeavors, like writing and photography. If you have a lot of clutter in your life, I highly recommend starting the decluttering process today.
Francine: What are three things you’d like to accomplish (either personally or professionally) in the next year?
Tammy: 1. Recently, I signed on with a literary agent and started working on a book proposal for the print world. My goal is to finish the proposal within the next month. And then we’re hoping a publisher will pick it up.
2. I’m planning on taking a digital sabbatical every weekend. So that means no email, no twittering, facebooking, or Internet surfing. I’ll be spending my weekends writing, doing yoga, and hanging out with friends.
3. We’ve been talking about building a tiny house for a number of years and I think it might actually happen next year. My friends Dee Williams and Katy Anderson are going to help us build our little dwelling.
Francine: Thank you so much, Tammy; it was wonderful chatting with you!