This week’s Work-At-Home Success story comes from Shel Horowitz, a green business profitability expert. For many years, he’s been a green business profitability consultant, copywriter, speaker, and author. Now he’s going beyond just going green to show businesses how they can profit by turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance–and going beyond sustainability to the world we all want.
His 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World–with endorsements by Jack Canfield, Seth Godin, the founders of BNI and GreenBiz.com, the author of The New Rules of Green Marketing, and essays from the authors of Unstoppable/Unstoppable Women and Diet for a Small Planet–will be published in April (just in time for Earth Day). Previous books include the long-running category best-seller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, named a Groundbreaking Indy Book by Independent Publisher magazine.
How did you get started working from home?
I had just moved to a new area and couldn’t find a job. I started a term paper typing service “to tide me over until my freelance writing career took off.” But the business itself evolved into a writing and consulting business, with a lot less headache than freelance journalism. I haven’t typed a term paper in 25 years.
How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
It really chose me. Typing clients started asking me if I could do some resume and press release writing for them, and I’m trained as a journalist so the answer was yes–except that I always refuse to write someone’s term paper, which I consider unethical. Then, some of my writing clients wanted consulting on publishing and marketing. I had always had some green business clients for my marketing services (back to at least 1983), and I personally have been a lifelong environmental and social justice activist. After spearheading a successful campaign to save our local mountain, I made a conscious choice to shift toward green, ethical, socially conscious companies. My last shift, showing business how to turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance while making a good profit, evolved out of working with a business coach, Oshana Himot.
How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
I acquired a used IBM Selectric TYPEWRITER at a school auction and hung up fliers on area campus bulletin boards. The fliers had tear-offs with my phone number. At that time, my clientele was entirely local. It started very slowly until I got my first computer in 1984, and entered the Yellow Pages the next year.
How did you get your first client or customer or job?
He saw a flier.
How do you market your business?
I use a wide range of marketing methods, most of which involve speaking or writing in some way. I do talks on “Making Green Sexy”–showing green businesses how to reach both green and nongreen customers –and “Impossible is a Dare” (an inspirational presentation that proves we can actually fix hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change.
I also participate in several online discussion groups, actively court media exposure (I’ve been covered multiple times each in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Southwest Spirit, etc.) I have a large online presence with multiple websites of my own as well as presence on social media, Wikipedia, and sites like Fast Company and Examiner. The three main ones right now are:
And I get a lot of business through referrals. Interestingly, some of these referrals are not past clients but people who know me through these online communities. Some of these are industry experts who feature me in their resource sections. I network constantly, both face-to-face and online, and often go out for coffee for a more extended get-to-know-you experience.
What does your usual day look like?
Up around 6 a.m.feed the cat, check HARO for queries to answer, either look at email or do a writing project for one of my clients, or for myself. I work in short bursts, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, with frequent breaks all day, starting with a ride on my exercise bike before breakfast. Riding the stationery bike is also where I get most of my reading done; I’ve read 72 books so far in 2015.
Over the course of the day, I’ll aim for at least two hours of gentle aerobic exercise–usually walking and biking–and weather-permitting, at least an hour of that will be outside. Dinner with my wife, based heavily on local organic veggies (and up to an hour prepping it if it’s my turn to cook). A few times a week, a fun thing like a concert, play, diner with friends, art opening, talk, networking event, or occasionally a movie. Other nights, I do more work bursts. By about 10 or 10:30 p.m., I usually get off the computer, do one last exercise bike/reading shift, and relax for an hour or so before bed.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish I’d known that the world would come around to understanding that green is important, and made a bigger push to be in that space a decade or so earlier. I also wish I’d figured out that hiring virtual assistants enables me to use my time more productively. And I wish I’d found the success formula with some of the things that have consumed a lot of time and energy but didn’t bring much result.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Start slowly. Keep expenses low, but don’t scrimp where spending would make a difference. Focus on your big goals and make a plan to reach them.
To connect further with shel, visit:
Don’t miss Shel’s books: