My Dad sure was surprised when I told him about my idea to start a website about Anguilla using SBI! back in 2002. "It would be fun to share our Anguilla adventures with people from around the world," I explained. His reaction? Happily shocked.
Boat-watching, Anguilla 2002
At the time, SBI! had just launched. He told me how SBI! went way beyond the books his company had originally published - about how to build website businesses that get traffic. They had surveyed their customers and discovered that most people only read books. Rarely do folks act upon them.
"Books are organized into logical chapters," he explained to me. "We realized that was not the ideal format if we wanted folks to turn a passion into an online business. Also, they need tools to help with the difficult..."
I stopped listening pretty quickly. I felt like a character straight out of Charlie Brown and Peanuts. It sounded like white noise. I do, though, remember how happy and excited he was to share what he did.
He continued, "other website builders stop there. But our product shows people, in detailed step-by-step, how to turn that website into a business."
Hiking to Iguana Cave, Anguilla 2002
I never realized how excited he was about this. No one had ever done something like this before, so everything depended on his theory being right. I understand it all now, of course.
In late 2001, they launched SBI!, a combination of...
People can also get help from forums, and so on. It was, in his words "the only thing people need to truly build a business online."
I wasn't really interested in most of what he was saying. I only wanted to build a website. While explaining, though, one sentence stood out. It all came back to "the book" that brought us to Anguilla, A Trip to the Beach by the Blanchards...
"You know those stories about folks dropping out of the rat race, people like the Blanchards? I want SBI! to enable that by building an online business."
"You mean you want them all to come to Anguilla?" I playfully asked.
He gave me "that look." I knew what he meant - be free and do what you love.
To this very day, he'll still tell us about a new story. Recently, he told us about this couple who had lost their farm in Zimbabwe. They had to move back to England, nearly went broke, and then discovered SBI!.
Now they are back in the continent and country they love, with a web site and business about Victoria Falls.
A while back, he told me about how a horse-crazy girl had started SBI! even younger than I did at 9 years old (with help from her Mom). She bought her first horse with the income from her business. There are so many stories like that. Those inspiring stories can be read here.
You'll see all kinds of people (500 here) writing about all kinds of niches I didn't know existed. The common thread is "live life on your own terms." Some move away to special places. Even in my Dad's business, people who work with him come from all over, from England to Ecuador.
A while ago, I suggested that "No Borders" would be a better name for "Solo Build It!" It's not just geographical borders. SBI! removes the borders people sometimes put around their own lives. It opens up "the possible"
Pool Time, Anguilla 2004
That thought came about because of the other stories he would tell me about. There are stay-at-home moms who earn money for the college fund, and retirees who supplement pensions. Each person replaces a border with a possible goal that is important to them.
I'm getting off-track because none of that had even happened yet back in 2002. SBI! had just started. So...
I didn't tell him that I didn't really care about building a business. Like I said, I could see how excited my Dad was about that part, so I tried tuning back in..."Anyone can put up a website. We have many big competitors - web hosts and free sitebuilders. But our studies show that they almost all fail to turn that into a genuine business."
"It's just too hard to figure it all out and keep up with so much information every day. SBI! covers all that, so folks can focus on the only thing that matters, which is building a business about something they know and love."
Basically, the idea behind SBI! is that if you know how to create good content in a certain way, people find your website. The rest is about how to grow it into a business.
The top of Windward Point, 2002
Eighteen hours later (Haha!), when he had finally finished talking, I just wanted to share my stories and tell people about Anguilla. If people found my website, like he said, that would be a bonus.
I hadn't really thought about how people would find my website. But, the more I thought about it, what was the point if they didn't? It might as well be a private journal if I built it and no one read it.
However, if people did find it, maybe some would want to visit Anguilla. That would help the island we all love so much. That part intrigued me - SBI! would help me show people what I would write about.
As we grew older, Yuki and I could see living a life of warmth and freedom was not just a nice thought. He and my Mom took steps to make that happen.
The amazing part?...
Fun day of Meads Bay surfing, 2014
I see now how SBI! has done that for so many others (Yuki is my Dad's "right hand, arm and shoulder" (his words) in his company). So I know more about what goes on day-to-day now. She and I both understand why he is still so excited about SBI!.
So many would love to live free, but life holds them back. SBI! enables dreams if folks are willing to put in the work. Some aren't and that's OK. If they try SBI! and realize they don't want to put the work in to achieve that dream, that's fine.
That's the reason he offers a 90 day guarantee on Solo Build It!. There is no simpler or cheaper way to do something that can change your life. "If folks are willing to give it a try, I'm happy to refund them if it's not for them," he explained to me.
This is much more than just a business to my Dad. He had retired when I was born. Before I was 2, (I am told) I had been all over the world, from Rio to Hong Kong, Vancouver to Paris. My Mom says that if we weren't traveling, we were getting ready to go.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
When Yuki was born, we moved from downtown Montreal to a small town 30 miles away. My parents wanted us to grow up in a tight-knit community where everyone knew everyone.
We settled down there where a golf course ran past our backyard. It wasn't long before my Dad found his new passion and was practicing hour after after per day. After 3 years he was giving lessons to a Quebec professional. When he won a big tournament, he credited my Dad, "Dr. Golf."
That's who my Dad is. He doesn't just "take something up." Above all though, he loves to teach. When he was an emergency room doctor, he taught students, interns and residents. When he and my Mom started a toy inventing business, it took 2 years for him to visit and know everybody who was important around the world. He laughs about that...
Warm, Summer Evenings Spent Golfing
"Mom and me, you know Globetrotters?" Of course I knew it. It was one of the first games they invented. The 4 of us played it often.
"Well, it launched at the same time as Jenga. It was a huge hit and is one of the best-selling all-time games ever."
"The toy company told me that Globetrotters was a classic that would last forever, that Jenga would be a fad and finished in a couple of years. Haha, that's not quite what happened."
I've never played Jenga, but still love Globetrotters. He told me that it lasted a few years and made them "better than a doctor" money from several countries.
But more importantly, they now had a door into the industry. My Mom and Dad worked as a team to create and license 22 other toys and games, a few of which did well enough to let them "retire."
After golf and travel, his next discovery was the Internet. A series of serendipitous events, as they say, led to Solo Build It!. And now, instead of playing golf and traveling, he "works" harder than any parent I know.
Sorry to digress, but both he and my Mom have been powerful role models and my Dad and I often have long chats about life and goals. I wanted to share my story with you, help you know me and my family. And I also wanted to thank them for guiding and encouraging us, without pushing. So to Mom and Dad...
Thank you, both! 💖
Rendezvous Bay 2015
OK, I promise that I'll try to stick to the story from here on in...
He went on, and on, and ON about SBI! and what it could do for people with what he calls "BAM." When he gets excited about something, he cannot stop talking about it. I didn't fully appreciate how much this meant to him. Not at that time.
Finally, I had to say, "Dad, can't I just build a website about Anguilla? I just want to share our stories and pictures. Just that."
His face went kind of crooked for a second. He would later tell me that he was disappointed for just that second. However, he was delighted that I could feel something calling me. He figured the rest would sort itself out.
And the rest, as he figured, is history!
For nearly seven years the website grew on 2-3 hours of work per week. My Dad helped, guiding me through the steps of Solo Build It (this is the manual I followed, "The Action Guide").
I don't need to explain everything that's in it. Here is a quick summary...
There was a lot to it, but it wasn't as hard as the advanced math that I was taking by grade 11. My main focus was school, of course, but that was work. The website was work, too, but that was fun.
You could say Anguilla-Beaches.com was a "hobby site" in those early years. I didn't think about it like that, but that's what it was. I loved re-living our Anguilla experiences by writing it all down.
Meads Bay, Anguilla 2002
Then, on a trip back to Anguilla, a funny thing happened. People started to find my site. More and more folks visited each month.
I was sharing my passion for Anguilla with strangers! It was working! Somehow, others who were searching for all kinds of information about Anguilla were finding my stories. Then, something really thrilling happened...
A tourist recognized me. "Aren't you that little girl who has the website?" Wow! I didn't know how to react the first time that happened!
Then there were those wonderful vacations. My parents have always been "habit vacationers." For a few years, we went to Provincetown (Cape Cod) every spring and fall. Then the destinations would change as my parents found new favorite spots. Once we found Anguilla, though, the trips to it never stopped. 2-3 times per year, every year.
My Mom said that she and my Dad fell in love with most places they visited even before we were born - they would even look at real estate. Anguilla is the only place where they did that and followed up.
Looking back on it now, it was the difference between infatuation and true love.
Long Bay, Anguilla, 2004
At that time, though, Yuki and I would just count the days down to our next visit from the time we'd arrive back home in Montreal!
Meanwhile, I had tons of notes and photos from our previous trip. My Dad worked with me on my writing. I didn't really like "doing" the Action Guide (sorry, Dad). It was too much like school. But, he'd walk me through it. I steadily learned and the site grew.
A yearly rhythm set in. More and more people visited the site as I went to university in Montreal, Yuki to highschool.
My Mom, Dad and sister moved to Anguilla in 2008. I joined the family at the end of 2008, after finishing courses to transfer from Concordia University to Baruch in New York in fall 2009.
First Christmas in Anguilla with family friends Mike & Johanna, 2008
From the end of 2008 until school began in fall 2009, I dug into SBI! while in Anguilla and pushed my site further.
When school began in the fall, Anguilla-Beaches.com was receiving 2,000 visitors per day and earning good income (tax-free, since I was an Anguilla resident)
From 2009-2012 I studied entrepreneurship at Baruch's Zicklin School Of Business, one of the oldest and best business schools in the U.S.
The funny thing is that SBI! is the most important education I've received. I knew early on that I never wanted to have a boss. I liked the way my Dad worked at home, was always around, and they seemed to take vacations whenever they wanted.
Solo Build It! grew and evolved with the times. ("Solo Build It!") is full of people just like me. Find something you love and share it with others. It's that simple. You would be amazed at how you can turn what is in your head into an online business. Here are some examples.
I started a little differently. I'm the only SBI! owner who is the daughter of the founder. And I didn't start this out to be a business. If I was independently wealthy, I'd do it just for fun.
So turning this into a business was the best thing that's ever happened to me. I can't imagine having a boss, working a 9 to 5. I work hard, but it's when I want and on what I believe in.
For example, I take my drone out on a gorgeous day (and most days in Anguilla fit that bill). I get some beautiful footage and then...
I've learned a lot about business. For example, I had Google Ads at first. They added so many rules and they slowly but surely decreased payments. So I dropped them.
Instead, wonderful businesses sponsor this site (see right column and bottom of page). I don't accept ad requests. I have to believe in the companies who sponsor me. With Google Ads, I never knew what Google might place on my site.
Then, I created the Anguilla Card. I learned how hard it was to start something. It launched with just 20 Participating Partners. I had to learn to "sell" and grow an idea.
The Anguilla Card, 2017
Now there are over 80 and I don't have to sell the idea. Partners want to be on the Card (and again, if I know that it's not a good product, I don't accept them). Customer feedback is terrific (both here and in TripAdvisor), with substantial savings, so everyone wins.
Now I'm thinking about the biggest project of all. I'll keep that one a secret for now. It's a very different direction.
Anguilla-Beaches.com has grown to become the #1 Anguilla site for both search and social media in the world, receiving over 1 million visits per year and even greater exposure through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All the while, I'm writing, photographing and filming about something I love.
The income from Anguilla-Beaches.com makes me free and independent. I have choices. Here are some stories about what other SBI! owners do, long-term.
If you are tired of the 9 to 5 or are simply looking to build an additional income stream for retirement or save for a college fund, there is nothing like it in the world.
Thank you, SBI!, Mom & Dad.