My business ruined me at 26.
I never wanted to own a business again. All I felt was pain and that manifested into mental illness. It’s what led me to get a boring job.
Rather than admit failure or understand that a business can fail and the founder can be reborn again, I chose to blame business.
- “Business is too hard”
- “A co-founder is a must”
- “You need an MBA to be good at business”
- “You have to be born a certain way to run a business”
- “Entrepreneurship requires you to work harder than an employee”
All of these things are a lie.
As rapper Jay Z said, “I’m not a businessman… I’m a business, man.” All of us are walking, talking businesses. We either get a salary from an employer or profits from a business. But we are all a business.
Since I learned this harsh lesson, while working in banking, I realized I was wasting my life as an employee. So I started a side business and attempted to rebuild slowly.
Here’s the truth they don’t teach in college:
88% of millionaires are entrepreneurs.
You likely won’t get wealthy putting money into a savings account or buying index funds. This is the lie you’re sold so you never get wealthy.
Everyone should start a business at least once in life. Here’s how I did it and you can too (while staying at your job).
The #1 mistake people make starting a business
Last night I was chatting to a Canadian wannabe course creator.
He tried to tell me he was set and would launch his course soon. I asked him one question: where do the customers come from?
“Ohhh…you know…a few LinkedIn groups I’m in.”
The guy’s delusional. I run a 7-figure academy and courses sales come from email lists. The big mistake this guy made is he quit his job to start this education business with no data or customers.
Entrepreneurs want you to think this is smart.
Wrong. Quitting your job for some unicorn fantasy is the definition of hell. Within a few months your savings will start to dry up and you’ll become desperate.
Before you know it, you’ll be back on the job hunt hamster wheel, desperately trying to get another salary to make next month’s rent. What I did is build a business on the side.
I worked from 6 AM to 9 AM, 5 PM to 10 PM and on weekends. Now, before the hustle culture crazies attack me, I didn’t work these exact hours.
I worked during these time slots. Sometimes one hour during 6 AM to 9 AM and other times a little longer. And there were plenty of weekends I didn’t work. Working hard isn’t the message here.
The point is to take a few small risks.
It’s to get your first customers after hours. It’s to be data-backed and sell some stuff before you quit your job.
Get around other business owners (so you don’t become delusional)
I’m not that smart.
When I started my new business I got around other business owners. I went to Startup Grind events, attended Success Resources seminars, and joined Slack group masterminds.
The worst trait failed business owners have is they think they know it all.
- They don’t listen.
- They don’t have an open mind.
- They let pessimism ruin them.
- They don’t learn from experience.
- They become obsessed with niches.
- They say dumb sh*t like “the market is saturated.”
You ain’t gonna make it if you do these things. Get around people who help you get out of your head, so you don’t become brain-dead with toxic ideas and thoughts of competitors stealing your customers.
None of us figure it out on our own. It’s easier to learn in a group.
Ideas are worth less than an empty can of Coke
I used to think my ideas were worth millions.
At 26 I thought the idea of a solar panel painted black would change the game. I called it Black Max. LOL.
People who obsess over ideas are idiots. The smartest people start businesses and execute on their ideas. The execution is where the value is because that’s how you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
I remember I met this business owner in banking. He wanted me to sign three different NDAs before I could see his idea. For laughs, I did.
Guess what his big idea was?
Uber but for boats.
I’m sure no one has ever thought of that before (joking). Whereas if he had started a boat business and got some customers, there may have been some value. Ideas are useless because AI can come up with more than the human mind ever can.
We’re drowning in ideas but starving for execution.
Ask venture capitalists. Ask bankers. Ask angel investors. They’re sick of ideas. They’re dying to meet someone who isn’t lazy and is willing to start a business and see what happens.
The paradox of business ideas
The best ideas are boring.
The great ideas have already been done before, the difference is good business owners just steal existing good ideas and do them better.
I started an education company. Nothing new. And education is one of the most saturated markets in the world. You know what that means?
People want education. Saturation equals “there’s money over here.”
Trying to be fancy will keep you broke and prevent you from ever starting a successful business.
Don’t start a business at all
Yep. The idea of a business is old school. The days of “Minimum Viable Product” are dead.
Instead of starting a business, I’ve learned to start an online community. Build the community and then let them help you build a business that’s integrated into it.
This is called “Minimum Viable Community.”
Once you have an audience and attention you can do anything — including build a business. What’s lacking for most wannabes is a strategy for getting people to buy their thing.
They spend so much time figuring out products, doing strategy, recruiting people, designing logos, ma$turbating over startup stories — instead of doing the hardest thing of all: finding people who care and have money.
Anyone can build a business after hours. Why not you?