Something New! If You Work for Yourself, Join Us On the Oregon Trail

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Greetings, friends and readers!

As discussed recently, lots of big things are in the works. I’ll be heading out for my Annual Review trip soon … we’re building out the business … next year I’ll have a new book and a new tour … but first things first.

Next March, we’re hosting an all-new event focused on independent work. It’s not something that everyone will care for, but we know it will help a lot of folks.

Read on if you’d like, or help us out by sending it to someone who might be interested…


Small Is Beautiful (But What Is “Small Business”?)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of small business owners and entrepreneurs, especially “solopreneurs” or those who choose to work for themselves. This way of life is all I’ve ever known! Since I first walked away from a dead-end college job at the age of 19, I’ve never worked for anyone else—and yet I’ve also never built a huge business or big corporation.

I also know that we microbusiness owners are many… but if you look around, it’s hard to see where we fit in.

The Small Business Administration of the U.S. federal government classifies “small business” as companies that employ up to 500 people.

500 employees! That’s… not small.

Many conferences and workshops that promise small business education are focused on topics that are much different from what the average independent entrepreneur needs to know.

What if you don’t want to sell your app to Google?

What if you’re not trying to hustle angel investors… you just want to hustle?

What if you want to own a real business? You know, one that makes things or provides services to actual customers and clients?

Many of the people in our community are doing just that. After the publication of The $100 Startup, I began hearing from them in my inbox and meeting them all over the world.

We are small but mighty. Yet there isn’t much comprehensive education for these people (us), and no single place for them (us) to gather.

We’ve decided to change that. We’re inviting independent entrepreneurs of all kinds to join us in Portland next March. This is the start of something big, and if it sounds interesting to you, we’d like to have you with us –>

Join Us on the Oregon Trail

Announcing Pioneer Nation: A Celebration of Independent Work

Every year a small team and I produce WDS, the greatest adventure of all time. (Since it gets better every year, the claim holds up.) For the past three years we’ve watched in awe as more and more people have connected with the event and joined us for a very special time.

We’re still extremely excited about WDS. More than 1,700 people have registered for next year’s adventure, and we’ll have final ticket sales sometime in early 2014 (join the waiting list for any news).

Pioneer Nation is an all-new and very different kind of event. It’s specifically for independent entrepreneurs: those who work on their own and choose to remain small.

Our pitch is: come prepared to work. You won’t just sit and listen to people talk; you’ll take action. You’ll bring a laptop (or a tablet, or a pad of paper) and leave with a big list of tasks.

We’ll focus on making—how to create the best possible products and services—on marketing—how to get the word out—and managing—how to stay productive without killing yourself.

It’s small (we’re starting with just 500 people), independent (we’re featuring small businesses throughout the entire event), and highly participatory (as mentioned, everyone who attends needs to be prepared to do some work). We want people to leave pumped up, but also with specific direction on how they can continue to grow their business.

Why Produce Another Event?

There are a lot of good reasons why not to produce an event. They take a ton of time to plan and host. Our whole team, consisting largely of volunteers, is always exhausted for days (weeks for some of us) after bringing the circus to town in July.

Events aren’t highly profitable either, at least not the way we run them with no corporate sponsors, nothing for sale at the event itself, and only top-quality merchandise in the gift bags. (If you want to make money, keep expenses low and put together a digital product.)

By hosting an in-person gathering you also reach only a small number of people, relatively speaking. Why bring together 500 people when you can reach 50,000 (or more) online?

This list could go on—the point is, if you ever find yourself in the mood to invite hundreds of people to your city, keep these facts in mind. The most important consideration is: Events are a ton of work.

And yet.

But still.

We’re very excited about doing this! We’re thrilled. We know this group of people is underserved, and we believe we can serve them well.

For the past few months (yeah, months—it’s taken a long time to get going, because we want to make sure we get it right) we’ve been meeting as a small group almost every week, touring venues and crafting a curriculum that will serve independent entrepreneurs.

Everyone on the planning team is self-employed, so we all understand the challenges of self-employment. After several years of running events for thousands of people, we’re eager to begin this new gathering with the right group of participants.

An Invitation: Join Us in Portland?

Last week we announced Pioneer Nation to our small list of WDS and $100 Startup event attendees. I wanted to give them a head start on the early bird sales.

We’ll only be able to welcome 500 people in total to the inaugural Pioneer Nation, and 100 of them are already confirmed. Once another 100 tickets are sold, we’ll shift to the regular pricing for the event (it will still be affordable, just not as affordable as it is now).

There are all kinds of people who read AONC, and many won’t be interested in this. But if the idea of Pioneer Nation resonates with you, join us in Portland. Something big is happening, and we need you.

Hitch up your wagons! (Inaugural event! 100 early bird tickets available!)

Everyone else, I hope you’re having a great holiday season. Next week: the annual review!

– Chris


*Two of our co-producers, Sean and Tyler, also wrote posts about Pioneer Nation today. You can read them here and here.

*The 20% off holiday sale from Unconventional Guides ends tomorrow night! You can receive the discount by using code “PUMPKIN” during check-out. Note that the brand-new Law & Order Guide already includes the discount.

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