How did we get here? Let me guess. You’re tired of being screwed over by the places you work or the people you work for. Welcome to my our world. This life isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of stress but the rewards will be worth it. I want to help you be successful as an entrepreneur. Your job is a big one. Not only must you create opportunity for yourself but you must create it for your community. It isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to fall flat on your face many times and those that love you one day may hate you another. You also will have to bootstrap this. Let’s be real. Nobody is going to come along and give you a huge check and say good luck, make us proud. In fact, they’ll do the exact opposite. They’ll string you along, waste your time, pretend they have more than they do and steal from your wallet while you’re distracted. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Your community needs you.
Ok, so I sound a bit cynical. Let’s rewind. My story will unfold over time to help you relate as chances are I know what you’re going through. You’re hungry, either for food or for opportunity. You want to work and bills are piling up. You have a desire to learn and to better your life. Chances are, you’ve either created something beautiful already and nobody knows it, or you’re fighting for attention. If you’re only beginning your journey or have doubts, I promise you, this is the correct path. You have many crossroads ahead of you and decisions to make. Hopefully together, we can navigate these rapids and keep you afloat. Let’s start off by saying, avoid the banks. Debt is your enemy. If you cannot create what you want without it, you aren’t beginning the journey at the right place.
If you’re American, I have news for you. There is this barrier to entry I like to call a ‘poverty tax.’ This ‘tax’ is your lack of stability. It’s the shaky foundation beneath your feet because you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth. It’s why you’re asking yourself, can I do this? That car you have? There is a payment to someone. The roof over your head? That phone you have? There is a payment. The computer you need, the software, the gas…you owe someone for it all. This is the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur. It’s the early stages before you own that vehicle outright or have the equipment you need to provide a service. It’s the rent due on your success every month. This is your first goal to overcome and that pathway you were sold in high school on college? This is the consequence.
You were designed through our education process to work for someone else. Let that sink in. The rules you were taught. The lessons you learned through your adolescence were all to be a good employee. Let that outrage you, because it should. If you’re here, chances are you realize that the carrot dangled in front of you never came to fruition. That $50,000 job out of college? Doesn’t exist, right? If it does, you didn’t get it. Opportunities for exposure? They aren’t worth it and don’t pay the bills on poverty tax. In my almost 9 years of doing this, I have never seen ‘exposure’ pay off. If someone offers it to you, its because they want you to do the work on their dream and can’t afford to pay you. Avoid it like the plague. These people don’t help you build value, they take it.
This all might sound like rules, but they’re hard lessons learned. Through entrepreneurship, you’ll figure out what our society really is. You will realize that at each step of the way, someone will always have their hand open asking for more. Protect yourself and what you’re building. Over time, you will identify who is your friend and who is simply taking from you. Those that give back? Keep them close, they’re precious. Your network is key to your long term success. There are over 6 billion people in this world and you need to find the ones that you can SHARE value with. In the early days, you have very little to work with. Find others who have the knowledge and resources to help you overcome barriers. Most importantly, understand how you can be of value to them as well. Give more than you take and take less than you give. This is the way.
So I’ve laid out a few things for your journey. You’re going to stumble and trip a few times. That’s ok. This is how you learn. Mistakes will have bigger value than your successes. Most importantly, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t get too big for your britches and don’t undervalue what you have to offer. This hurts everyone in your industry and creates an expectation of ‘cheap’ labor. As we go along, I’ll share with you how I went from living in my car after being laid off, to making six figures a year in my 20s. The journey is a wild one, but it keeps life interesting. Challenges will come and we’ll face them together. Welcome to entrepreneurship. The clock is ticking and those bills are due.
Photo by The Bend Magazine and Lillian Jean Photography