Keep it simple, or go big?

For the past couple of weeks I've been doing some serious thinking & planning behind the scenes. And no, I'm not over here plotting world domination and how to make a million dollars. I've simply been evaluating my business, my lifestyle and all of the tiny details that have become a part of my daily routine.

It pays to take a step back now and then and look at where you are and where you're headed, and compare that to where you really want to be in your life. That's exactly what I've been doing...

As strange as it may sound to some, money has never been my primary goal. Sure there was the survival period where it was necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table, but looking beyond that - and certainly when I got past that period - my focus was always about lifestyle.

I was on the phone with a good friend recently and we were talking about goals. He mentioned that one of his was to have a million dollar year. That breaks down to $83,333.33 per month. My response: you better know how you plan to spend it before the IRS decides for you! 😉

Taking things to that level requires high maintenance. It takes strategic planning, and I'm not just talking about getting there - I'm referring to managing that amount of money and the lifestyle that goes with it.

Personally I'm flat out not interested. In fact, after preparing and filing my taxes for the 2008 year, I decided it was time to reevaluate. It's entirely too easy to make a ridiculous amount of money in Internet Marketing. If you haven't found that out on your own yet, you will. And when you get to that point you have to decide whether you are going to be proactive about achieving the exact lifestyle that you want - or if you're just going to passively react to everything that comes your way. Ride the wave, as they say.

Having more money than you can reasonably spend may sound great in your daydreams. But the reality is quite different altogether. My advice is to figure out exactly what you want, and then work very strategically to get to that point.

I am careful about growth. I dont want to manage a full staff or even an entire virtual team. I've already done that - I closed down two physical locations that were staffed years ago. I also dont want to be stuck managing money for a living, or hiring a full time accountant to make donations and shift funds and set up tax-deferred accounts and yada yada yada. Who needs it!

I want to do what I do best - nothing more and nothing less. I want to continue to work with real people. I want to enjoy afternoons at a long lunch with friends, all day shopping trips with my kids, early morning hikes at the falls and evening walks by the river. I like my simple easygoing lifestyle.

What I currently owe in taxes is more than most people have ever earned online. More than most people aspire to earn online this year even. I'm not complaining, and I dont mind to pay my fair share in taxes, but now you know where I've been - and why I've been somewhat quiet across the web for the last 2 weeks. I've been working the numbers, seeing my accountant, and making some serious decisions about my online business and my lifestyle.

I'm still working out those details, by the way. But it just happens to be a beautiful day here in Tennessee so... I'm off to a long lunch with friends. In the meantime, I would like to invite you to listen in to a conversation I had with Nicole Dean yesterday:

The conversation is very down to earth, somewhat personal and includes a lot of heartfelt comments and genuine laughs. Much like the conversations that Nicole and I had while rooming together in Orlando a few weeks ago. We talked about online business, success, tipping points, mentors, and what it really takes to get started and make money online.

I also told her exactly how I would spend $100 if I were starting over today. You might be surprised at the answer 😉


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. lyle robinson says

    I'm off to listen to the interview now Lynn...and I too love my simple life and free time without all the hassles of worrying about a huge pile of money. My small pile of money does me just fine...:) Later...

  2. Scott Tousignant says

    Lynn, I was just about to write about this topic on my blog. I think that it's a fantastic topic.

    At the beginning of the year I had written down that I wanted to make a million dollars this year. I announced that to a few friends as well as my accountability partner @BobTheTeacher.

    But when I revisited that goal and was trying to come up with my "Powerful Reasons Why" I wanted to achieve that goal I had a difficult time.

    I don't need a bigger home. I don't need a new car. I couldn't think of what the heck I would spend it on.

    My family enjoys living the simple life. We love our camping trips and enjoy hanging around and playing games together. I don't need a million dollars and right now I certainly don't want it.

    When I began marketing my business online my main goal was freedom and it still is. I want the freedom to go on those family camping trips whenever I want. I don't need a million dollars for that.

    It's time for me to re-evaluate my goals and come up with a number that I am content with that will give my family the freedom that we deserve and allow my kids to go to college if they wish.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us Lynn. It's a great topic to discus and causes us to reflect on what it is that we are aiming to achieve.

    As mentioned in The Change Series movie, "Our goal isn't a million dollars, our goal isn't to lose weight... Our Ultimate Goal is HAPPINESS"

    Scott Tousignant

  3. Alison Wood says

    Lynn, that is a great post and I absolutely agree with where you are coming from.

    I have had a couple of bereavements this past year and it has really made me evaluate how I am spending each and every day.

    What I realise is that I want IM to take me to the level of not having to work a day job, and I am well on my way. That is my ultimate goal though freedom and flexibility.

    Thanks as always for the post, Alison

    • Thank you Alison!
      Freedom & Flexibility are the greatest aspects of my current lifestyle. I can honestly say that those 2 things have made my life far richer than any amount of money I've ever earned...

  4. Carl Pruitt says

    This is one of the best posts I've read in a while.

    Most people never come to realize that earning a million dollars isn't what they really want. They want a particular lifestyle they think that the million dollars is going to buy for them.

    Carl Pruitt

    • True, Carl. If you want a real eye-opener, read the documentaries of people that won the lottery or experienced other major financial windfalls - right? It's actually quite sad.

  5. Hi Lynn,

    Listened to your interview with Nicole yesterday. Very interesting. Also, you two sound like alot of fun.
    Enjoy your lunch and have a great day!

    • Thank you Darlene. Nicole is a nut! We had a fabulous time rooming together in Orlando at Willie Crawford's event last month - along with Tracy Roberts and Elizabeth Ashe who joined us most evenings as well. What a weekend! 😉

  6. It's amazing how you wrote this in perfect timing. I also evaluate if my actions or what I'm doing are taking me to where I believe I should be.
    We all need and want some kind of financial stability but just like you I also don't see that as my primary goal.
    It takes some serious reflection and soul searching to make sure that our actions are aligned to the goals that we have.
    Lately I have come to realize very clearly what is my passion and what is not. I love to help people overcome emotional things and be strong spiritually for what may head their way.
    That's probably why I've gone through so much- to help others do the same.
    Of course I can reccomned products that I believe in and earn some kind of income through that but my primary goal is truly to shine some truth as to how to be happy in the midst of trials and how to get through them.
    I'm with you in the whole accounting thing. Takes a lot of time and energy to account for stuff. Achieving a balance and making the necessary changes to achieve that in my family's life is one of my primary goals.
    Even though I haven't achieved my financial goals I'm working on that and have decided to enjoy the process not just the "achievement" part.
    It's so true that some parts of life are a pain so I try to think of ways to make it more enjoyable- less of a pain 😉
    For example: this week I have to find a huge amount of papers (stresses me out)so I'm just going to put on some calm instrumental music and light some scented candles and take the phone off the hook so it will be a better experience -LOL 😉
    Loved your post,

    • "enjoy the process" - I love that, Eren 😀 I absolutely love what I do, and that's part of what makes my life FUN. When things stop being enjoyable and become "work" its definitely time to evaluate and make change...

  7. Tina Williams says


    Even in your Coffee Breaks you are so on target. In another life, offline, before I ventured into the world of Internet Money Making, my husband and I owned a landscaping business. I bought it from him and proceeded to make it "grow, grow, grow" (like the grass we were cutting-lol) because I wanted to make a zillion dollars. The bigger the business, the bigger the headaches and responsibility. I learned that very, very quickly.

    We have since sold that business and I understand completely what you are saying with making money online. It's out there--really it is. But being a zillionaire is not my goal anymore either. Four children later, being home with them and having a comfortable life is the priority. Being a zillionaire would be nice someday but managing it one dollar at a time gives me the time and piece of mind that I need to satisfy my immediate goal of being a mom-extrodinaire first.

    Thanks for always being that person we can know-like and truly trust to be our mentor, our guide and that "little voice inside of our heads" steering us down the right path!


    • Thank you, Tina!
      "The bigger the business, the bigger the headaches and responsibility." So true! It's also true that there are ways to manage it if that's what you choose to do. With an online business you can take on a team, outsource the work, and basically manage it all if you choose. And a lot of people do that. I'm a big believer in automating & outsourcing... just not to the point of removing the passion & purpose 🙂

  8. Alex Newell says

    I just love this "It’s entirely too easy to make a ridiculous amount of money in Internet Marketing."

    Hope ya right Lynn, I am ridiculously good at spending it!



  9. Thanks for another great post Lynn!

  10. Lynn, as usual - I love what you say 🙂 It's not about the money. For me it's about the choices it gives me. I wish we could make all the money we want and not have to worry about the tax man *sigh* cuz that would make it all a lot more fun.

  11. Wade Watson says

    This sort of against-the-grain thinking and honesty-- along with your considerable knowledge and willingness to share-- is what makes you so fun to follow. You can't know how encouraging it is to hear you say "It’s entirely too easy to make a ridiculous amount of money in Internet Marketing". For those of us not out of the crude trial-and-error stage of starting in this business, it's nice to think that we may have to decide at some point whether to go for the huge money or settle for the really good money. I'm looking forward to that problem down the line.

  12. Shortcut to internet millions

  13. Dan Reinhold says

    What a change to read a description of the possibilities of Internet marketing/marketing on the Internet that doesn't include driving around town throwing $1000 bills from your Lamborghini!

    While sitting in the backseat hot tub as your suspiciously handsome/gorgeous chaffehuer(?) does the driving, of course...

    I know I'd be happy with less. $10 bills, a late-model Honda, a bucket of warm water and Danica Patrick.

    Well, the whole dream doesn't have to be reasonable, does it??

    And once I finally knock myself out of my own way, the rest'll be cake.

    Now about that "ridiculously easy" part...

  14. Yes money is not every thing. After all the sole purpose of money is to spend it to improve your life style. If you become too busy in earning money and spend your whole life to gather money, what the hell will you do with that money when you will become old? so earn and spend, earn and spend. 🙂

  15. I love the way you look at things, Lynn. I have that same "Eat Sleep Tweet" t-shirt too -lol-

  16. Nicole Dean says

    Amen, sister! The simple life is all that I want.

    Canoeing, sitting by the pool, going on bike rides, playing card games, campfires...

    I don't want to be trapped by lack of money - or by the chains that a lot of money can bring.

    As always, I really enjoyed our chat. And, thanks to all the "Mothers and Others" who stopped by to listen! ALL are welcome to the Success Cast. 🙂

    • "I don’t want to be trapped by lack of money - or by the chains that a lot of money can bring." - Well said, Nicole. Balance. That's what it's all about. 😉

  17. Lynn, that is just one of the reasons I love are a down to earth, honest woman who knows what she wants and works hard to get it. Sure I'd like to be making money, but it is more important to me that I learn the PROCESS of making money online so I can pass that on to my children and grandchildren. We are making progress, and I appreciate what you've taught me. I'm grateful!

  18. Lisa Marie Mary says

    Keep It Simple is definitely perfect for me! If my children and hubby are taken care of, if we occasionally get 'goodies' (trip to Gulf Shores or new clothes or a movie) - that is the only reason I've been chasing this dream in the first place! 🙂

    • I can definitely say I'm "living my dream" - whether it is the same dream as anyone else or not. My dream never included a yacht or lamborghini.

      Just this morning I drove past an apartment I lived in when I was 20 and got a major reality check. Everything that transpired between that day and this one flashed through my mind. Wow.

  19. Lynn, you say what's in our heart of hearts (if we listen). I don't know if I need a million dollars, but I know I want my mortgage paid off, I want my kids to graduate from college without debt; I know I want to take a couple vacations overseas every year and I know I want to do as you do - take leisurely lunches when I wish and enjoy my home and community.

    Whether I need a million dollars or not isn't the point, but I do need to earn a living in a such a way that I'm able to enjoy the quality of life I want. If not, what's the purpose of money?

    I'll always remember you for your kindness but especially for your professionalism. You gave me great technical and copy advice for my writing website and you allowed me to guest blog on Click Newz!

    My heart-felt thanks to you Lynn.


  20. dawnaurora says

    Hi Lynn,
    That is so true. I am aiming for the lifestyle. The one I want is to have TIME with the kids. That is so important to me. I am not able to have that with the kids yet, but it is the goal.
    I heard the interview with Nicole and it was great. Enjoy learning more about you.

  21. Valerie B Bess says

    Hi Lynn,

    It seems you are at one of those critical times in your life, where you revisit your goals and in some ways, reevaluate your life. Every body has their own definition of success, and as you stated to Nicole Dean the other day, yours is about not having financial stress. Your quality of life, your freedom to do the simple things like take a walk when you want to, lunch with your friends and hang out with family, it seems, are so much more important than the 7 figure income with all of its trappings. You seem like a very grounded and insightful person, as well as fun 🙂

    Wishing you even more success,
    Valerie B Bess

  22. Mike Hays says

    Hi Lynn,
    When we spoke on the phone a few weeks ago you were so kind and genuine. I really appreciated you taking the time out of your busy day to give me some wise advice. You have an incredible knack to connect with people. I hope you never change. I walked away from a job a few years ago that was bringing me more money than most people make in a life time. But I made the decision that my kids were more important than "keeping up with the Jones'". It was a hard decision but looking back it was the right decision. I have the best relationship with my kids and I truly believe it is because I was there for every golf tournament and gymnastics event. I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. I hope someday we can sit down over coffee and swap stories. Keep up the good work, Lynn. We all appreciate what you do.

    • Thank you Mike - and I know exactly what you mean about spending that time with your children: "I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world" - my thoughts exactly. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled for the opportunity to have that coffee - but at the very least another conversation for sure!

  23. Thanks for this post Lynn, it so very inspiring, and has really helped me get back on track and in the right mindset. I've been thinking about how I want to move forward in my life and career over the past weeks, and this has really helped put things into perspective.

    Loved listening to you conversation with Nicole. You both are such a great inspiration. 🙂

  24. Thank you for all the great feedback & thoughts. As much as I dislike talking about "money", getting this off my chest was helpful in breaking my quiet spell here on the blog.

    I wanted to share another link with you guys that I ran across today, written by Paul Evans of Nicheology: . It's titled "Internet Marketing and Life Insights" - it's a quick read, and a very good one. Enjoy!

  25. Good blog, I like the relaxed attitude that you display and your writing style is very reader-friendly! I look forward to more.

  26. Hi Lynn:

    What a thought-provoking post! You know, it's so interesting, I was just talking with a client about this very subject. One of my areas of expertise and fascination is in goal-setting because I find that so very few people know how to do it so that it is effective and meaningful to them.
    We tend to want to quantify goals in terms of numbers because we want to be specific and clear and focused, but I find that a monetary number is incredibly difficult because there is no cut and dried number that we KNOW will make us happy or feel successful. For example, I know that losing 15 lbs from my current weight is a reasonable number to help my self-esteem and for my health, but saying that I want to make a 7 figure income when I've never experienced it and have no idea whether or not it will make me happy is an altogether different matter:-)
    In assessing my lifestyle now, I'm fairly confident in saying that 1 million dollars is not something I need to satisfy my internal motivation.
    I think ultimately we need to get very clear on what makes us happy, and 99% of the time it is NOT money. Setting the goal is great, but we need to focus on the process of reaching the goal, not the goal itself.
    I really wished you could have gone on the cruise, I was so looking forward to meeting you in person, I think we would have had some really great conversations! Still hoping it happens soon:-)
    Thanks for a great post!

    • You offer so much food for thought, Danielle - thank you! I regret missing out on Carrie's cruise and all the great company. I do hope we get another opportunity to sit and talk in the near future. Let's make it a point to make it happen 😉

  27. Ohhh, income tax. I guess tax strategy should be a part of the original business plan. Looks like you've brought us another invaluable piece of information. Hope you'll follow-up with a tax strategy e-book!

    • I believe there are a few people out there that focus on this topic specifically - its definitely something we should all consider in our growth plans. I've been very strategic about it along the way, but reached a critical point in the last couple of years.

      I have talked to several people in the last few weeks - people that are successful in the IM industry, that is - and have been getting some great advice and valuable insight into how they manage their business & income.

      Do a search on google for "internet marketing taxes" or "internet marketing IRS" - you should be able to find some good resources.

  28. Hi Lynn, Always enjoy your blog and all the other info you give out. I have only recently started researching the Internet Marketing game and I suppose like a lot of people I have signed my name onto a lot of lists. All very well but all these guys are doing is selling each others "How to make a million in a day" stuff. And all it did was get me even more confused. So now I have cut out all the "Get rich quick" schemes and found a few gems along the way. You and a couple of other straight talkers, Seth Godin and Ed Dale. I don't want to make a million, just to make sure I have enough to travel more and enjoy life. I would like to be able to sell some of my "Artworks" and that is what I am aiming at, as well as still doing the Family and Child portraits I have always done (I am a photographer) So your piece above hits all the right spots. And if anyone wants some nice portraits done!!!!!! call me.
    Well done Lynn.

  29. Robert Nelson says

    Once again Lynn puts things into there proper perspective.
    It is interesting to note the various Lynn responses to the posts.
    On many Forums the last time you ever hear from the Moderator is when you joined and got the "welcome message",this is more like a sister or at least a family relative responding.

  30. Diana Walker says

    Wow - Lynn - this is an incredible conversation.
    In 1996 - Twelve years ago when I was working full-time and I was a single parent with 2 boys.
    My income was good, but I was in a government job and wanted freedom of time, and to be able to spend quality time with my sons.
    By 2005 I was able to leave my full-time J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) - and successfully become a fulltime CEO of my own online business.

    On the first night, we were asked 3 questions:
    1. How would your life change if you received 5 million dollars?
    2. If you had 6 months to live, what would you do in that 6 months?
    3. If these things are so important, why aren’t you doing it now?

    Just answering those questions over and over, has brought me to today - a wonderful comfortable lifestyle, all my dreams coming true, and living simply and still making a really nice income.

    Yes, some people do want the million dollars, but not me!! - but I also am so grateful that I am able to work from home, and be my own boss, and go for walks on the beach and to yoga whenever I want!!

    It is so fun seeing all the wonderful comments here too.

  31. Theresa Mayhew says

    Hi Lynn,
    I'm new to your site (found you via someone on Twitter) and really appreciate the message in this post.

    I feel the same way . . . just want to live a simple life without the stress of managing more money than I really need. I guess I'll wait til I get there. I'm really just starting out.

    I'll subscribe so I don't miss your posts. Looks like a great resource.


  32. Eric Phillips says

    Great post Lynn. I've been having the same thoughts over the past few days. Working a full-time job and having a family makes it difficult to find the time to work on my business. Trying to find balance in my life and grow my business at the same time.

  33. It's better from time to time to look back and see what you have done for you. You must think also where you are in the present and take actions for the future.

  34. Chuck Lin says

    Is it really "ridiculously easy" to make money in Internet marketing? I've had no success at it despite busting my hump and doing everything everybody told me to do. It's nice to know that someone is succeeding where I have (thus far) failed.

    You're right about the lifestyle thing, too. If I could make 2/3 as much as I did in the corporate world as a blogger, I'd never go back even if jobs were available.

    • Yes, it really is simple. It's even easy. The majority of people I've talked to over the last few years seem to want to make it way harder than it is - for whatever reason.

      Take a step back and look at some successful models in a variety of markets (not just IM). Consider the common elements, what makes them successful, their profit models, etc.

  35. In my case I rather have enough money to pay taxes then not have any money at all. I know what my financial goals are with my online business. Hopefully soon enough I will accomplish my goals 🙂

  36. Hi Lynn - I so LOVE your post, and I’m SO WITH YOU on this!

    Having the pleasure of that delightful long lunch with you few weeks ago during your latest trip to Melbourne, Australia, is exactly the way I want to have the freedom to choose how to spend my day with friends, on a whim, when I want to, as a great example… Just like you said...

    I left my corporate life to start my own Home Business, desiring to be free, to do my own thing, be master of my own destiny, to do what I want to do when I want to...

    Yes, it’s a choice that requires courage, backbone and stamina. But also, at end of day, the choice is absolutely clear for me, because it’s the only way I can truly feel FREE to “BE” ME, and live my Life “being” true to myself, with authenticity and integrity.

    Growing your business can get complicated, so it’s a balancing act between growing that way, or staying small, free and easy. Intuitively I resisted, because I knew where I’d be going with that again.

    There are compromises, yes, for sure. But then not really, if you feel you’ve achieved living your life the way you want to with Integrity.

    When I’ve coached people about their goals/dreams, the initial Ferrari or Lamborghini, over time transforms into a 12 month holiday break to faraway places with a loved one/family. It’s not the money manifesting into a material object/symbol, it’s the “Freedom Lifestyle” that comes from Financial Success.

    I’ve just recently done my taxes too, and it’s such a retrospective focus for a few days. I yearn to return to my dreams, and “being” and “doing” the uplifting things to bring about my future.

    Here’s to flying free, being yourself, and self-determining…

    Freedom = Choice = A Life Well Lived on One’s Own Terms…

    Lynn, thank you so much for your wonderful honest post. From the amazing responses above, you've opened up a subject close to many people's hearts.

    Kathy 😉

    • Thank YOU Kathy. A great addition to the topic! I so enjoyed our long lunch outside of Melbourne - what a great meal with fabulous company!

  37. Don Cantrell says

    I was lucky I suppose my age makes a lot of decisions for me just like the go big or not others are faced with. I'm sixty two and really retired until the last year. Thank you uncle Sam and fellow crooks.
    I felt all this article writing blogging, promoting while maybe quite rewarding was simply too much for me. I wanted something paying for what I did. Just enough to replace all or most of what my uncle is stealing. Thankfully I found it. In a much maligned niche too. It works for me. It's buying my new whaler fishing boat and sending the youngest to college. I'm happy.

    • Awesome, Don - glad to hear it! I'd be interested in hearing more about wanting something that would 'pay you for what you did'. Care to share details? 🙂

  38. Ecommerce Help - Tyrone Shum says

    This has been a very nice and realisti post.
    True enough, a lot of us would be wondering whether to go for the big or keep the simple. I for one however think that we should accomplish first our simple goals before going for the big catch. After all we all start from scraps and if lucky, end up big, be it online marketing, SEO, blogging and a lot more.

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