Many years ago, I decided to start something, my first ecommerce business. I didn’t know what to sell but I knew I wanted to try my hand at ecommerce. So after months of searching for a product to sell online and not being able to find a perfect product, I chose one at random. Even though I had no interest in the product I was selling, I worked hard and gave my new business the attention and detail it deserved.
My passion for starting and running an ecommerce business led me to starting this blog, even though I had no real idea as to the direction I wanted to take with it. To be completely honest, it wasn’t supposed to be anything more than a journal of my thoughts on ecommerce – mostly for myself. However, again, I gave this blog what any new project deserves, attention and detail.
It’s been nearly five years since I started my first ecommerce business and three years now since I registered ABetterLemonadeStand.com. Looking back and distilling the last few years of my life, I’ve noted a few things:
My first ecommerce business and this blog were directly responsible for solidifying my path in life. Not a temporary affair with a new hobby, but a steadfast direction.
My first ecommerce business led me into the world of online marketing, prior to that, I had zero experience with digital marketing.
This blog helped me to uncover a talent of breaking down complicated, non-linear subjects and teaching others through writing, uncovering a skill I didn’t know I had.
My new found talent led me to discover something I am now even more passionate about, inspiring others to be bolder and to build something of their own.
This blog introduced me to others that were passionate about entrepreneurship. Through these new relationships, I became fortunate enough to be able to participate in one of the most exclusive Mastermind groups in the world, surrounding me with entrepreneurs that inspire me to be better every day.
It had me scouted by Shopify to join them in their vision of making ecommerce better. A position that receives hundreds of applications, and one I was fortunate enough to receive without ever even handing over a resume. My blog and ecommerce businesses spoke for me.
After a year and a half, working at Shopify led me to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of being part of a 2 billion dollar tech company going public on the NYSE and TSX.
Now, I’ve left Shopify, still steadfast on the same path of building things and helping entrepreneurs.
So What’s The Point?
Many times, us entrepreneurs get so caught up in the game of perusing money that we forget to calculate the value of the unexpected events that happen to us along the way.
Life and entrepreneurship are rarely linear. Ultimately, all I did was start something and I gave it the care and attention it deserved. The rest of the script was mostly written by external forces and couldn’t have been scripted or predicted.
And that’s the point. Starting something and giving it the attention and detail it deserves. If you do that, I truly believe the rest of the script will write itself.
Action Creates Opportunity
Action creates opportunity. I’ve seen it time and time again. When you create something, even something seemingly small and you apply attention and detail, people notice. That will create new opportunities.
It’s happened with every business I have started. Even starting something as small as a simple t-shirt business can spawn new and interesting opportunities, but only if you give it the attention and detail it deserves.
I wholeheartedly believe it’s much less about what you do, rather the fact that you actually do something and you do it well.
Why You Have To Be An Entrepreneur
When most people think of entrepreneurship, they think of it in a vacuum. An all or nothing thing. Either you work for someone else or you work for yourself. Many people neglect to consider that with an online business and the level of automation available now, you can be an entrepreneur while also enjoying the benefits of a full-time career. This is important because I believe that some level of entrepreneurship is necessary for everyone.
Let me explain…
Entrepreneurship is About Security
It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was an entrepreneur. The industrial age changed that. By the turn of the twentieth century, it became the norm to work for someone else. Jobs were plenty, pay was great and the American dream was something that actually existed. Unfortunately, we’re no longer in the industrial age. It’s come and gone. We’re in a new age now, one that many refer to as the Information Age. While the name sounds promising, for many of the unprepared, it’s going to be a career slaughter fest. The next 20 years will see many jobs being replaced with further advancements in robotics, computers and machine learning. In fact, up to 47% of jobs in the United States are at high risk of being replaced by technology within a decade or two. These vulnerable professions are no longer restricted to manual or menial labor but have evolved to encompass knowledge and skill-based work as well.
When you consider that and then look at the rapid rate in which work pensions are declining, add to that the rise in living costs and things don’t look great for the traditional corporate work role.
Jeff Goins recently wrote a great piece on this. In it he said:
The best way to keep a job in the future, it seems, is to do the opposite of what our parents did: Don’t rely too heavily on any single job. Make yourself indispensable by acquiring more than a single skill, and combine those skills in interesting ways, finding where your talents and passions can align with the demands of an ever-changing market.” – Jeff Goins
As Jeff also points out, employment is undoubtedly changing, and we’re already seeing this transition take place. In fact, some statistics say that as soon as 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be contract employees or self-employed. Starting entrepreneurship now will better prepare you for what is coming.
It’s About Owning More Shares In Your Life
No single man, woman or company should ever be able to take away your entire livelihood, yet when your work a corporate job and a corporate job alone, your boss is judge, jury, and executioner for 100% of your income. One person can decide your fate. They can decide if you can pay your rent/mortgage and if you’ll be able to put food on the table for your family.
By having your own business or even a small micro-business in addition to your job, you maintain more control over your life. No longer can a single person strip you of all your income. This is a much more powerful position to be in. Just one extra income stream changes everything.
Ask yourself this: How would your job be different for you if you had a business that was bringing in even a modest amount like $500 or $1,000 each month? Knowing that if you had to leave your job or was asked to leave, you already had another income stream (that you could likely make even more money with, now that you have more free time). Knowing that if your boss isn’t treating you fairly you can walk away with confidence. Knowing that you had more time and could be more picky about your job search if you’re in between jobs. Knowing that if you are looking for another job, you can be that much bolder in your salary negotiations?
Yes, entrepreneurship can allow for all of this because you own more shares in your own life.
It’s About Learning More Skills To Make You Indispensable
Building, launching, and growing your own online business will likely teach you at least 10x the number of new skills than you’ve learned in the last 10 years. By starting your own business, you’ll be forced to learn things like photography, copywriting, HTML/CSS, internet marketing, conversion optimization, human psychology, customer service, negotiations, and accounting.
All these skills will make you an overall better, more interesting, more indispensable person. Again, all this can also translate into a better career, if you choose to continue that path as well.
Why You Have To Start Entrepreneurship Early
I started my life of entrepreneurship pretty early with lemonade and vegetable stands in front of the house I grew up in. This level of entrepreneurship evolved as the years went on. In my college days, I tried and failed miserably at consulting and a few other fly-by-night business startups and projects. However, each one of those experience acted as a step that got me to the next level.
Entrepreneurship is a skill that can hardly be taught. It’s something that takes practice, experience, and time.
Let me explain:
1. You must relearn much of what you’ve been taught.
For most people, becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn’t just happen. It’s not like you’re working at a corporate job one day, decide to quit and start a successful business the next. You see, for your entire life, you’ve been trained to be an employee, you’ve been trained to work in the industrial age.
Your decisions generally need approval or they have been filtered through many others. This helps prevent you from making the wrong decision. It’s like wrapping a playground in bubble wrap. While it’s safer, it’s not much fun.
2. Failure is inherent.
There are very few entrepreneurs who have been wildly successful on their first shot. Maybe even their second time around.
A business is simply the sum of 1, then 10, then 100, then 1,000, then 10,000 decisions that you have to make. Each decision will have a direct impact on your business.
What if you make the wrong decision?
You will and you’ll learn from each decision and it’s direct impact on your business, using that information to make your next decision better. Sometimes, you’ll make a series of wrong decisions and your business will fail, but you’ll learn from these decisions and you’ll make a better series of choices for your next business. All these lessons take time and sometimes, going through multiple failures to learn from.
3. Time Value of Opportunities (TVO).
There’s a principle in finance called Time Value of Money (TVM). Basically, it states that $1 today is worth more than $1 tomorrow.
The idea that money available at the present time is worth more than the same amount in the future is due to its potential earning capacity. This core principle of finance holds that, provided money can earn interest, any amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received.
I believe the same principle holds true for being an entrepreneur and starting an online business. Provided no major external factors, a business or opportunity acted upon today is worth more than a business or opportunity acted upon tomorrow, because of the potential earning and future opportunity generating capacity (action creates opportunity). In this sense, earning capacity for an online business refers to more than just money. When it comes to an online business, this happens in several ways:
- Domain Name: Domain names get better with age. Search engines see the age of your domain as a sign of trust in their ranking algorithm.
- Traffic: With a little bit of honest hard work and best practices you’ll build your traffic. Over time, you’ll learn which channels deliver the most traffic and the most qualified traffic so you can optimize your marketing and build more traffic consistently.
- Subscribers: In the world of online marketing email addresses mean money. The longer you’re around the more emails you can collect. Over time, you’ll also learn how to better build your email funnel to collect more emails from your particular visitors and you’ll learn more about how to convert those emails into paying customers.
- Influence: The longer you’re around, the more credibility you build and the more influence potential you have. Others in your industry will start seeing you as an expert and people will ask for your opinions and feedback.
- Connections: The more influence and presence you have, the more connections to make which are critical to growth. Your network is your net worth. It takes some to build your network and connections but the longer you’re in a particular field, the more time you have to build relevant and key relationships.
- Revenues: Revenues can fluctuate, but in general, the longer you’re around, provided to keep yourself and your business relevant, the more money you’ll make. You learn more about what works and what doesn’t work. You grow revenues by focusing more time on what works. Day after day, month after month, year after year.
- Brand: A brand isn’t created overnight. A brand is the sum of your customer’s experiences with your business. The longer you’re around, the more experiences visitors and customers have with your business, the stronger you can build relationships and the better your brand has the potential to become.
- Opportunities: Opportunities seldom come out of nowhere and for no reason. They usually manifest themselves in direct relation to you hitting milestones and achievements that others end up recognizing and the desire for them to want to align themselves with you (i.e. action creates opportunity).
Where Should You Start And What Should You Do?
Almost everything comes down to providing value and building an audience. If you’re not ready to sell a product quite yet, start by building some type of audience that you can always sell something of value to later. If you know what type of product you will want to sell (but just don’t have the means to sell yet) then you will likely want to create something around that niche and product so that you can attract the appropriate audience. If you’re still unsure what you’ll sell, I would suggest building a community and audience around something you’re fundamentally interested in.
Below, I have listed several ideas that you can use to start building something immediately around a particular niche:
- Start an Ecommerce Business
- Start a Blog
- Start a Podcast
- Start a YouTube Channel
- Start an Email Newsletter
- Build a Landing Page and Collect Emails
- Build a Facebook Group (not a page)
- Build an Instagram Account
- Build a Twitter Account
We’re no longer living in the 20th century ruled by assembly lines and falling in line. The information age is ripe with opportunity for those that are willing to take the chance to embrace and pursue it. Unfortunately, for many workers, the information age won’t be kind. Like many times before, those that don’t adapt will be left behind.
Entrepreneurship is a lifelong process that requires old ways of thinking to be forgotten and new skills to be learned. Despite the challenges and inherent risks, it is becoming increasingly obvious that you’ll need to know how to make some money yourself, without relying on others.
The good news is that it’s never been easier to be an entrepreneur. If you think it’s difficult to scrape together a few hundred dollars to start your online business, consider the time your parents and grandparents grew up in. Not even 25 years ago, they would have to risk everything and get a loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars to open a physical storefront. A single failure could be catastrophic for an entire family, but here we are today, starting businesses in 24 hours, for the cost of a pack of razor blades.
Embrace the opportunities of the Information Age and prepare for what’s coming. Start something. Build something. Grow something. I promise you, it will be the best decision of your life.