As a work-at-home expert, tons of people contact me on a daily basis (email, social media, FB groups, etc.) and immediately ask to be given a job, ask when they can start making money, or email me 13 paragraphs explaining their hopes and dreams in the most minute detail.

It happens so often — and it makes me so mad — that it makes me want to punch a puppy. And I love puppies.

My puppy (Buffett) and I 🙂

I am not a big fan of handouts. I’m a fan of empowering people to not constantly ask for help but instead learn how to solve their own problems.

Here’s the undeniable truth of the matter: If you have the power to read this right now, you have the power to solve your own problems. You have the power to generate your own income. Even if you don’t feel like it right now, you do.

If you just don’t know how to do it yet, stick around — you’re about to find out.

How making money actually works

The BIGGEST problem I see a lot with people new to working at home is that they are so heavily focused on themselves that they don’t understand how “business” actually works.

“Business” is often viewed as this obscure and general term people use to describe the corner bakery or Wall Street or the corporations that cheat on their taxes.

But business is based on relationships, and it is transactional.

Business is the exchange of value for money. That is it. Nothing more complicated or scientific than that.

This concept is the same whether you work at home, whether you’re traveling, or whether you’re at a desk in an office.

Again: Business is the exchange of value for money.

And what is value? Value is a solution to a problem. That’s why I always say “If you can solve problems, you can make money.”

If you can solve people’s problems, you create VALUE for them. If you can create value for people, that’s when you will make money. Not before. If you’re not creating value, it is going to be awfully difficult to make more than minimum wage or slightly above it.

How can you create value? Learning skills. How do you know what skills you need? Find out whom you want to serve first. Who needs help?

The answer to that question, who needs help, by the way, is not YOU. That doesn’t mean you don’t need help; all I mean is that when you ask yourself that question from a standpoint of making money, the answer should not be “Me! I need help!”

Once you find the people who need help, then you can ASK THEM what they need.

The magic of asking

Something magical happens when you ASK what other people need help with. What are they struggling with? Where are their pain points?

Something magical happens when you ask these questions: People TELL you!!! It’s crazy. When asked, many people will tell you exactly what they need or want to solve their problems.

At that point is when you would be able to step in and offer them value, and after that is when the money would exchange hands. Not before. You don’t get to make money until you can prove you offer value.

Now that might come across as me just stating the obvious, but believe me when I tell you it is unbelievable how many people do not ask what people need before asking to be paid for a service.

They just want to be paid! Making money is their #1 concern — and it shows.

Some people, who incidentally also make me want to punch a puppy, believe they are entitled to money just because they exist.

Do not be that type of person.

But I want you to know I get it. Okay?

I get wanting to make money, and I know how it feels for that to be the most pressing concern in your life — but the people who will pay you for value DO NOT CARE about your issues more than they care about their own. They only want to know, “Can you solve my problem?”

They don’t want to know about your needs at all. Not when they have a job to fill or a problem to solve. Your problems at that time are the LEAST of their concerns.

Making money is not about you

Learn to solve people’s problems. Flip the switch in your mind that this working-at-home thing is all about you… because it’s not. The people who succeed at this over the long haul are the ones who GET this critical point.

Repeat after me: “If I can solve other people’s problems, I can make money.”

If it feels like you can’t solve problems right now, then dare I say that is because you’re focusing on your problems… and you’re allowing those problems to blind you from seeing other people’s problems.

Flip the switch. Stop thinking about yourself; stop thinking about your family.

(Yeah; I said it.)

Think about other people outside of your immediate bubble. Think about their problems.

You can help other people, and they’ll pay you for it. Maybe not the first person you ask; maybe not the first 100 people you ask, but other people will pay you to help them.

The more people you can help solve their problems, the more NATURALLY successful you will be yourself. You will be amazed at how quickly you can make money if you flip the switch from yourself to other people.

Other humans with problems.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, I can’t do that; I can’t help anyone, I don’t have any skills,” then I’m gonna tell you, that is a big, fat, honkin’ excuse.

There are millions of types of problems in the world, and I guarantee you that you have the skills to solve at least some of them. It might mean you need to ask some questions; it might mean you can’t be picky about the problems; and it might mean that — if you want to move up in how much income you can earn — that you have to LEARN.

The lost art of learning stuff

Learning.

It’s a novel concept these days… Isn’t it? Learning.

I really believe it’s a lost art.

Society conditions us to believe we’re “done” once we leave school, whichever level of school we have.

Many of us believe that we’re not able to learn outside of a college degree program.

Some of us think because we have had the same job for what feels like forever or that because we haven’t worked in the last decade since having kids that we are stuck.

Guess what? Your brain is not at capacity! You can learn new stuff! You can learn new skills — lots of them — and you don’t need a classroom to do it.

Since 2014, I have helped hundreds, probably thousands of people learn brand new skills. They have learned to do stuff they have never done before. It’s amazing. And I never get tired of seeing it happen. I see pretty convincing evidence on a daily basis that the human brain is an incredible information storage and implementation system.

So I have a challenge for you…

Get on your Facebook profile right now.

(Your own profile. Do not, I repeat do not post in a group; post on your own profile.)

Ask the following question:

What do you need help with in your life or business right now? What are you struggling with?

Do not include anything about the fact that you want to make money. Do not talk about yourself at all.

Just ask, again, this: “What do you need help with in your life or business right now? What are you struggling with?”

Post that on your profile — and just see what people say.

This is how you get business ideas, folks. This is how you “put out feelers” in your network (which, if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone and meet people, can easily get bigger)!

You’ve got to be willing to ask what people need.

Maybe someone will respond that they need help with their kids or with a project or their resume. Maybe they will say they need help filing paperwork. Maybe you’ll be just the person to help with whatever they need… but to even have that chance, you’ve got to swallow your pride, step out — step UP — and ask.

Another point I want to be clear on is this: If you’re going to succeed at working at home, you have got to build relationships. Even if you can’t physically leave your house, you can still do this.

The lost art of relationship building

Our online world allows us to get information so fast that we’ve been conditioned to believe we deserve everything instantly and that everything should be automated — including our relationships.

And while the truth is that you likely deserve to succeed financially, you don’t deserve that type of success instantly.

None of us do. We all have to work for financial success.

We are not owed any favors, and we are not entitled to earn money in exactly the way we want,  automatically, just because we exist or simply because we need money — however desperate the situation.

Needing money is not a unique problem, and to get to a point where you don’t need it anymore, it takes work.

Do not wait until you solve your own problems before attempting to solve others’ problems. Building relationships with people who have problems (which is literally everyone) is the first step to earning money.

It is by solving other people’s problems that you will solve your own problems.

I do not promise a lot of things. I do not make guarantees lightly because no words on a screen or out of my mouth can guarantee the actions you’ll take. Only you can guarantee your own actions.

But I can promise you that if you can flip the switch — if you start looking outside yourself and asking people what they need help with — and start building real relationships with the people whose problems you want to solve, you will make money. I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take or how much money you’ll make; all of that is dependent on your effort and the value you bring.

The money you make is directly influenced by the value and effort you put in.

Will you take the challenge?

So… will you take the challenge? Will you look outside yourself today? Will you flip the switch and find the people who need help and ask them what they want?

Will you solve other people’s problems?

And if you don’t know how to do something, will you learn? Will you refuse to allow “I don’t know how” to be an excuse for not learning?

If your answer is “yes,” then I can’t wait to see what happens in your life.

As the late Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Other people want their problems solved.

And here’s something that may surprise you: You don’t actually want money. You want freedom and more time to enjoy your life.

You want that. I want that. Everybody wants that.

If you can help other people get that, then you’ll create it for yourself. Solve other people’s problems, and you’ll make money.

These are the universal truths of making money… and you can choose to work with them and win, or you can deny their existence and lose.

What’s losing? Losing is going through life wanting something — wanting more out of life — and never getting it. Losing is settling for less when you don’t have to. Losing is believing someone else is in control of your income besides you.

That’s losing.

We win by solving each other’s problems.

Flip the switch.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Caitlin Pyle

Caitlin Pyle is a 30-year-old former freelance proofreader turned multimillion-dollar mediapreneur.

As the founder of the ultra-niche, multi 7-figure blog Proofread Anywhere, Caitlin has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider and Foundr, and she enjoys using her words to swiftly kick budding business owners in the pants. She writes primarily about skill development, mindset, and authentic marketing.

Caitlin lives in Orlando, Florida with her husband Ben and their not-a-Corgi dog, Buffett. She enjoys eating tacos.