International Micro Business Inspiration

by | May 27, 2010 | Archives, International Business

An international micro business can enhance wealth and protect against inflation especially when you take a global perspective and a bird’s eye view.

Get ideas on how to spot micro business ideas from this field and…

ecuador electric

these cars.


The novel “Lake House” by James Patterson… was a great success but was a rather odd novel with sympathetic characters being genetically altered children who are part bird. They have wings and fly.   I was surprised when I learned that this has been a really top selling novel.

Why did this story do so well?

Patterson says it’s because most people have a dream of wanting to fly.

My thinking is the yearning goes deeper. We humans yearn for bird’s eye views.

We want to see the big picture…connect dots…to enhance our lives, yet see all the detail just as birds do. We want to improve our life and make the world a better place with win-win views. Like the eagle. He sees the entire panorama yet spots the smallest mouse moving in a field.

This is not always easy. It has been said that man can achieve the impossible, fly to Mars even put a man on the moon. Yet we can never overcome the inconvenient.

Take energy concerns. Fly into Copenhagen and you’ll see windmill after windmill built in the middle of the sea. What a huge undertaking that was!

Or go visit my state of birth, Oregon. Drive up the Columbia River and see the Bonneville Dam. A monster of a grand project…all to have more energy.

There are almost impossible jobs done…the wind captured…the mighty Columbia tamed just to replace fossil fuels.

Merri and I have noticed something interesting when we drive to Charlotte Airport. Coming south (North of Charlotte) a DOT Lane starts where only cars with two or more people can drive. Traffic was backed up for dozens of miles in the right lane…all cars with one driver. Merri and I whisked into the totally empty DOT lane and at 70 MPH right through Charlotte while these multitudes sat, burning fuel and wasting time.

Why? Because it’s a little inconvenient to find another person to ride with to work! Instead the masses sit there, thousands of man hours lost and tens of thousands of gallons of gas consumed.

Our international business can enhance our wealth when we use a bird’s eye view as well. We increase our odds for great prosperity when we tap into life supporting investments….because in the long term what makes money is solving problems.

Here is a case study on how to create micro business opportunity by spotting problems as they unfold every day.

This case study looks at opportunity in energy.  Energy shortages are a huge problem and hence a huge opportunity.

Problems create three types of opportunity.

#1: Adaptation

#2: Mitigation

#3: Structural Change

Let’s begin by looking at the problem and opportunity in energy structural change.

During a Smalltown USA study on electricity costs, I stumbled across a January 29, 2010 Economist article entitled “Running out of juice” that created new thoughts about green investing and about living in Ecuador.

An excerpt from the article says:

How will we recharge all the electric cars?

IN THE ten years since hybrid electric vehicles first hit the highways and byways of America, they have come to represent 2.5% of new car sales. Yet, in places like Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC, every other car seems to be a Toyota Prius. That is because hybrids like the Prius have sold overwhelmingly where well-heeled early adopters reside.

A couple of million of the new electric vehicles could be bought by early adopters during the first few years.

The popular assumption is that they will be plugged into a wall socket in the garage late at night, taking advantage of cheap off-peak power. Unfortunately, things are not that simple.

One thing the new plug-ins and pure electrics have in common is a beefy lithium-ion battery pack that needs a lot of heavy charging. At the very least, that involves installing 220-volt wiring in the home. Trying to recharge a modern electric car with a standard American 110-volt supply takes too long to be practical (up to 18 hours in the case of the Leaf).

Of course, if not fully charged at night it may have to be recharged during the day—when electricity rates can be up to five times more expensive. Average peak rates in America are 33 cents a kilowatt-hour compared with seven cents off-peak.

In theory, recharging electric vehicles during off-peak hours should help utilities “fill the valley”—the trough in electricity demand between midnight and six in the morning, and thereby get better utilization from their coal- or gas-fired generating stations. But, again, things are not quite as they seem. No utility wants to run its network flat out. Scheduling maintenance becomes difficult, which can lead to more frequent failures. The net result is that additional capacity has to be installed at a cost that would not otherwise be justified.

This time the Californian utilities are being more circumspect. They are concerned about highly concentrated pockets of ownership and the effects of everyone deciding to recharge their electric vehicles at once—as they inevitably will do when they return home from work. The local electricity system could be easily overwhelmed, and wider swathes of the grid brought to its knees in the process.

Preparing for this means beefing up local transformers as well as installing heavy-duty wiring and smart meters in homes to provide early warning of network troubles ahead. Sooner or later, those additional costs will have to be passed on to customers.

Now let’s talk about US electricity costs.

Excerpts from an April 2009 NPR article entitled “An Aged Electric Grid Looks To A Brighter Future” by Jeff Brady point out a story for rising costs and says:

The nation’s electricity grid is facing some huge challenges — it’s outdated and unprepared for increasing demand and a future that includes more renewable sources of energy. In a week long series, NPR is examining the state of the nation’s electricity infrastructure.

The economic stimulus bill passed in February includes $11 billion to upgrade the country’s power grid, but that’s just a down payment on a massive undertaking. That’s because when it comes to electricity, not much has changed since Thomas Edison fired up the first commercial power grid in lower Manhattan on Sept. 4, 1882. The fundamentals he pioneered are still the basis for an electricity grid in the U.S. that is almost 100 percent reliable. But in recent years, that grid has started showing weakness.

On Aug. 14, 2003, a lot of people in the northeastern U.S. learned that they couldn’t take reliable electricity service for granted anymore. A utility in Ohio failed to trim a few trees, causing a surprise outage that rolled across the region. Eventually, it left 50 million people without power for about a day. The risk of blackouts still exists in just about every region of the country.


The cost of this upgrade will eventually be passed onto consumers.   This started me thinking about electricity in the parts of Smalltown USA where Merri and I live.

Living in Smalltown USA often means living with extra space and in some parts of the country that space can be used to generate electricity.

I have already figured out what to do with hydro power on our North Carolina farm… because our farm has space… water and a lot of drop in altitude.

But I wanted to check potential solutions for creating energy in Florida… where energy might best be provided by the sun. We have 16 acres in the sun and parts are in the form of large empty fields with no obstructions.  I was wondering what to do with this space and started looking at Hybrid Solar Energy Systems.

ecuador electric

Right at the entrance of our house is a perfect…

ecuador electric

place for an energy field.

So I started researching.

I was surprised. Though the numbers will not send me rushing to the bank… they have caused me to pause… and consider.

A 5040 watt complete MyGen solar electric system by Kyocera can generate up to 5,000 watts of power an hour… sometimes.   Our electricity co-op will buy this electricity from me for .11 cents a kilowatt.

This 5040 watt system was offered to me totally installed for $37,380. “Whew,” I thought at first.

But a 30% federal tax credit is available thus lowering my real cost to $26,166.  A talk with the electricity co-op suggests that the actual electricity generated from such a system is worth about $500 a year or about a 1.3%  per annum return on that cost… if electricity costs remain at .11 cents a watt.

1.3% isn’t enough to get excited about until you ask two questions.  The tax credit raises the return to 1.8%.

First, what is my bank  paying me on a $26,000 CD right now?

A  local bank here in Florida is offering 1.6% on a one year CD.

Second, how much might electricity costs rise?

I do not know the answer to this but certainly would be surprised to see electricity prices fall.

In Florida there is one added kicker. The state has been paying a subsidy of four dollars per watt on the first 5,000 watts of installation. In other words… they would kick in $20,000 if I put in the system.  Wow!  That means the cost starts at $37,380.  The tax credit saves me $11,214…. leaving $26,166 of cost minus $20,000.

This is a no brainer… an investment of $6,166 with an 8.1% return at current prices on a commodity that is likely to rise in the years ahead.

The downside is that Florida ran out of money for this subsidy and there are numerous buyers already on a waiting list… which is the only reason why I am still researching rather than having the installer working now.

Yet there are three points we should consider as they may lead to some green profits

Green profit point #1: Solar energy systems are becoming more efficient.

Green profit point #2: Energy costs are rising.

Green profit point #3: We, as investors, may profit from installing solar energy in some states now.  This will create more demand for solar products and cause the shares of solar energy companies to rise.

So a bird’s eye view shows us that micro business services in alternate energy generation structural change makes sense.

We can see a different type of energy opportunity in adaptation.

One micro business Merri and I had was publishing reports on how we to import used Rolls Royces and Bentleys from England to the US.

A better idea…


now might be reports on how import the deux chevaux instead.


This was described by CAR magazine journalist and author LJK Setright as “the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car”. Imagine how much good we could do in the world if everyone drove a two cylinder 61 miles per gallon car! See more in Lowtech magazine below.

Or in researching the deux chevaux I spotted a micro business that imports and rebuilds them to sell at a premium… up to $20,000 each.

There are…


many small, fuel efficient cars and…


many micro business ideas that can be built around small cars… like converting the Suzki Samari engine to a much more fuel efficient Volkswagon diesel engine.  Ideas range from a how to manual to importing the engines to providing the conversions.  I have had my Samari for 24 years and would be your first customer!

So there are plenty of micro business ideas that come from adaptation to the energy crisis.

How about mitigation.  Our efficient energy driven society forces most of the population to work so hard they have no time to eat right and exercise properly.   So energy mitigation creates business opportunity in wellness.  Selling people on ideas of cycling to work is an example.  They save on fuel and get exercise they need.

This opportunity could unfold in businesses as diverse as offering reports on cycling to selling bikes.

Problems create opportunity to change… mitigate and adapt.

Get a bird’s eye view of the world’s problems. Then look for micro solutions.  This is a great way to start your micro business for everlasting wealth.


How We Can Serve You

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Visit our Blue Ridge farm.

Welcome to Little Horse Creek… where it is…


always quiet and cell phones do not work.


In times that so many perceive as tumultuous, inspiration becomes even more valuable and important in business.  The news on the internet, in the papers and on TV are so filled with negativity that it can be catching. In such eras, those who see positive realities gain an extra edge.

You own small business can help you enjoy a lifestyle of freedom…such as Merri and I have.

Our international micro business allows us to live part time at our remote North Carolina farm on Little Horse Creek.

Here is the creek…


deep in the forest…


isolated and with many waterfalls.


The creek becomes a bit swollen in the spring time. Changing from this to…


this!    The creek starts on our land… fed by dozens of pure water springs. It feeds the pond below our main house and…


fills our…


deep woods…


Japanese soaking tub that is heated with a wood burning stove and refilled after each soak… so the water never requires chemicals but is always clean.

The creek provides some great trout meals also. Here is a brookie our daughter Eleanor caught.


The water refreshes in summer. Here is…


our son Jake soaking in one of the pools on a hot summer day.

We have a…




forest office where…


we can feed everyone on the deck looking over the waters.


In winter our meandering stream becomes part of the wonderland.

This beauty and solitude provide many positive inspirations. There is plenty of space to hike. We have put in over…


eight miles of road (the blue lines).  Each leads…


to a place… like our…


isolated glen labyrinth which has a great…


view.  Vistas are…


everywhere. The paths themselves are…


places of…


Blue ridge mystery leading to beauty… year round… summer green, gold in autumn. They are white powder in winter and…


lead to flaming wild azaleas in spring.


We grow bold sunflowers and a lot of our own vegetables in the summer.


and have…


farm fresh…



Here is my office and…


my sunrise view on…


crisp mountain morns.


In the summer we get to watch the horses being…



We invite delegates at our North Carolina courses to come up for an afternoon tea to…


our house. The horses like to visit also.

Merri gets busy in our teaching kitchen…


and cooks up the treats when…


we have seminars.

A few people come stay with us in our…


seven cabins and farmhouses for guests. This is Blackberry…


Cabin.  All have feather top mattresses and high thread count…


sheets and mountain made quilts and Pendleton wool blankets for cool nights.

The blackberry has a great porch and…


rocking chairs for idle afternoons.  The Trout Cabin…


is next door. With a…


big porch for Bar B Qs plus a king…


size bed.

The Johnny Appleseed Farm House sleeps up to 7 and the Wildflower Cabin is here as well.


We converted this…


falling down tobacco shed into a great Guest Barn… with all amenities including a pillow top king size bed. This is very comfortable.

However if you are not into comfort we have a primitive cabin…


deep in the woods… cold water and a pot bellied stove for heat and cooking… but still a great pillow top king size bed.

Here is Thomas Fischer of Copenhagen’s Jyske Bank speaking at our seminar with roses we imported from Ecuador in the background.


This is why Merri and I like having our own international micro  business. North Carolina farm… Danish bankers… Ecuador flowers!  The best of every world.

This gives us the freedom to live part time in the North Carolina mountains but also part time in Ecuador… and part time in Florida…  yet still earn income.

I can do shamanic exercises  when our son visits us in North Carolina even in the winter.


Or swim in this, a warm Pacific current, about 45 seconds stroll from our Ecuador beach penthouse.


Here I am chasing our horses past the primitive cabin during a snow storm.


But when it gets too cold, I can ride in Ecuador instead. Here my friend, Joe Cox, and I enjoy winter views of Cotacachi below.


Merri and I can walk in this…the entrance to our Farm in January.


Or we can hike around Lake Quicocha, a sacred Andean lake near our Inn Land of the Sun (formerly Meson de las Flores).


Of course this message is not really about weather… North Carolina… Florida or Ecuador.

This message is about the benefits of having a business that provides freedom and allows you to live and work wherever you find inspiration.

Get away from the gray humdrum… go where your horizons expand.

Inspiration is everywhere. Seek it. There has never been a better time for a micro business and an upbeat outlook on life.

One kind reader sent me two coffee mugs recently, enamel bumper stickers if you like, that said “Ille Gitimati Noli Carborundum.”

The translation is “Don’t let those who are illegitimate wear you down”.

Look for inspiration in your passions.  They may lead you to strange places… in the minds of the humdrum herds.  Yet success is waiting for you in the nooks and crannies where others do not go.


If you want extra income, adventure and fulfillment in your life…consider a international micro business.

Our emailed course on having an international micro business may help you do this. Click here to learn more.

An October 22, 2008 New York Times article entitled, Inspiration Can Be Found in Many Places, but You Need to Be Looking By MICKEY MEECE says:

“Successful inventors, entrepreneurs and writers say they are often asked where their big ideas came from.

They will acknowledge that serendipity often plays a role. But equally as important, they say, is having an open mind — especially in tumultuous times like these. Big and small ideas are out there, they say, if you are looking for them.

Consider the experience of Lopa Mehrotra, who was studying to be a political scientist. One hot summer day, she said, she was watching her 6-year-old daughter outside playing.

“Look,” her daughter said, as she scraped two gray rocks on stone and watched them turn white. “It’s magic.”

“I said, ‘Actually, it’s science,’ ” Ms. Mehrotra said recently, explaining how that moment inspired her to create, a social networking site that allows students to showcase scientific experiments.

Jacques Heim, who founded Diavolo Dance Theater, was in Aspen with his dance company, using an elementary classroom as a dressing room. Naturally, it was full of toys, he recalled. He saw a box of blocks, including three in particular that caught his interest: identical five-sided pyramids that created a cube. “I was inspired by the geometry behind it,” he said, “and played with it for months.”

Ultimately those cubes led to a performance piece called “Foreign Bodies,” set to music by Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Members of Diavolo, based in Los Angeles — gymnasts, actors and dancers — use everyday objects, like doors, stairs and chairs for dramatic movement, as well as the three mobile pyramids for “Foreign Bodies.”

“I believe if you have the child inside you and you walk down the streets, things happen to you,” he said. “Intuition. That’s how I operate.”

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, a physics professor, said she got her idea when she was changing the channels one day and happened upon a Nascar race. Without warning, she recalled, one of the cars hit an outside wall. None of the cars had bumped, she said, and there were no engine failures or flat tires. So what happened?

It was not idle curiosity. To solve the problem, she immersed herself in racing by spending time with pit crews, crew chiefs, mechanics and drivers, and eventually wrote, “The Physics of Nascar.” The book traces a race car from its design to its race to the finish line.

Sometimes, Ms. Leslie-Pelecky said, she finds herself on the track and thinks, “How did I get here?” It is because of her “pit bull gene,” she decided. “When you get to a problem, you don’t let go until you solve it.”

Our mission is to make sure that our International Business and Investing courses in Ecuador and North Carolina inspire.