In 2011, I went from working at a restaurant making $2.17/hour (plus tips) to launching one... then two... then THREE successful, profitable businesses with literally no startup capital.
I remember one day in the back of the kitchen, with gross butter balls all over my hands, I decided I was done making excuses for myself, blaming other people and flying in the "holding pattern." I know this already sounds very "self-helpish" and corny, but it was an important day for me. My mentality shifted.
I was ready to ditch my 9 to 5 forever and find something that could make me a lot happier AND a lot richer.
Or I was at least willing to die trying.
Now, this isn't the part where I ride off into the sunset on a unicorn cackling and clicking my heels, clutching a pot of gold. Far from it. This is actually the part where it gets even MORE difficult.
Here's the thing: Understanding that you are capable of starting a new business is fine and dandy. The question is HOW.
HOW do you come up with a good idea, turn the idea into a business that people will PAY you for, then launch that business in a way that sets you free?
I'm not going to tell you how I figured that out. I want to tell you how NOT to do it.
3 Deadly Traps That "Wantrepreneurs" Fall Into
Trap #1: We think we need an "original" or "great" idea
When I first started brainstorming different ways to make money, or possible businesses to start, I felt like taking a can of bright red spray paint, drawing an X on a concrete wall and smashing my head straight through it.
I kept doing the mental marathon -- coming up with dozens of ideas every day and rejecting all of them.
"No, that won't work"
"Can't do that, it's already been done"
"Nobody's going to buy from me"
"That idea is boring"
"That idea is too complicated"
It was exhausting. On and on I went like this. Day after day. I probably came up with 729 "not good enough" ideas.
Here's the problem with this mindset: you go through all this mental anxiety trying to come up with the "perfect" idea... and you make no progress. Meanwhile, you see other people doing completely uncreative, uninventive crap and making tons of money.
And that makes you even MORE anxious!
I remember reading an article about some guy who opened up a coffee company -- but all he did was "dropship" it. Basically, he took orders for coffee on a website, then sent the order to a factory, and they just sent the coffee out under his brand name. He didn't have ANY products. All he had was a website.
And he was making something like $92,000/year.
When I saw stuff like that, it made my blood boil.
The takeaway? You don't have to be completely original to have a profitable idea.
Instead, ask yourself this: "What's ONE problem many people have that I know I can solve?"
Trap #2: We try to figure things out alone
Be honest with me, how many nights have you stayed up "determined" to figure out what you want to do? Googling different ideas, gathering more research so that you can be "sure," reading books on starting a business... only to come up empty-handed?
I did this too. Until one day I realized I had it backwards.
Trying to figure things out by ourselves is toxic. We stay inside our heads and we have nobody to tell us when it's time to make a move. We have nobody to turn to when we have questions. And we have LOTS of questions. But, it's so easy to get overwhelmed and let the questions overpower us.
The takeaway? We need an expert with experience and a proven track record of success to help us step-by-step and say "do this, don't do that"... "wait to move on that until you do A, B and C."
We also need a group of people JUST LIKE US who understand what we're going through, who don't think that we're "weird" for trying to launch a business or reading self-development books. We need a group of our peers to help us grow.
Trap #3: We don't create any systems to hold ourselves accountable
We used to think that our habit of procrastination made us appear smarter. The logic being, "Look at all this work that I can cram together three hours before a deadline. I just pumped out a 4,000-word report. I must be brilliant."
This mental framework is still left over from high school and college. It's not really our fault. Nobody taught us how to be accountable to ourselves. We were always meeting imposed deadlines. Answering to other people's expectations.
Now you want to launch your own business but you have absolutely no idea how to organize your life to make it happen. It's not as simple as just "being more productive" or "having more willpower."
You've tried to create new habits or set goals for yourself in the past, but you always, always, ALWAYS end up letting yourself down and letting things slide.
"It's okay, I'll just try again."
That's what you tell yourself. In reality, you feel lost because you don't even know HOW to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The takeaway? You need a system to set clear, actionable steps towards your goals -- then actually knock things out.
Without answering the above, there's no way you'll ever be able to launch a business. But how do you answer what you don't even know?
You have to build a community.
Back to me for a second.
Remember the restaurant? After agonizing over finding the "right" idea, trying to figure out everything alone and, frankly, making NO progress taking actions towards my goals, I knew it was time for a change.
I realized I had to surround myself with people and tools that would make it impossible to fail.
I didn't have the answers by myself. So I started to write about not having the answers.
I dedicated the next 11 months of my life building a community of people around me who were willing to help -- other young entrepreneurs who were just as hungry as me. Which opened the door to experts who were way smarter than me.
And guess what?
Not months... not years... WEEKS.
I can't even tell you how amazing it felt to teach my first class of 30 students, knowing that the money from just ONE class (about $10,000) would have taken me 4 months to make at the restaurant.
In truth, I felt a little dumb. All this time, the tools to launch had been sitting in my lap. But I had no idea how to use them until I had more experienced people around to show me what to do.
I hope you enjoyed this blog!
If you're curious to know how I got started, and how you can begin your own journey to self- employment, you should enroll in my free mini-course on making more money. It'll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a new business using skills you already have.