The year was 2002, just a year after the infamous dot-com crash. I was nearing 30 years of age. I was toiling away at my desk job, going through the motions, and more than mildly discontent.
It was an okay job, the money was decent, and I was making a dent in my student loans, but another 30-plus years of the grinding, soul-sucking rat-race was a bleak and depressing prospect. And, even if I sucked it up and endured it for three to four more decades, a comfortable retirement would be far from certain.
Conventional wisdom tells aspiring entrepreneurs to first write a business plan. Makes sense, right? Although what I’m about to say might sound counterintuitive, that’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Here’s why.
In my blog, I often stress how would-be entrepreneurs allow themselves to be overwhelmed and paralyzed into inaction. Fear of failure is one of the chief culprits.
The reason that fear of failure stops people dead in their tracks is because most people fail to understand the value of failure. In a future blog post, I’ll discuss how I built a $7 million business from scratch in 10 years with zero entrepreneurial experience and zero knowledge of my industry, through trial-and-error (aka repeated failure).
Throughout our lives, we’ve been taught that being average is a bad thing. While I would never encourage you to strive to be just average, being an average business is not always a bad thing.
The truth is that the quality and profitability of businesses in any given industry runs the gamut. However, in most American industries, the average business actually does pretty well outside of an economic recession.
On my way to becoming a self-made millionaire, I learned something quite surprising about starting and building a successful business. It’s not the idea, stupid.
When starting out, most of us (myself included) become fixated on the idea. “If only I could come up with a brilliant new idea for __________, I’d be a millionaire.” I call this the “inventor mentality.”
In my family, I’m considered the “wise” one (or so I’d like to think). My wife is the “practical” one. I’ve learned over the years that you need to be both wise and practical in order to become rich, or really, to succeed at anything in life.
Like most people, I used to believe, and very much wanted to believe, that money can’t buy you happiness. Well, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, so trust me when I tell you that money is a prerequisite for happiness. The wealthy class loves to perpetuate the counter narrative for obvious reasons.
At age 45, I recently hit my “number.” I’m now officially somewhat retired. I’m 100% debt-free with a net worth of over $7 million. While I still choose to work part-time to help run the business I started 15 years ago, I now live life on my own terms. I have plenty of free time to enjoy with my family, and I travel for fun frequently. But it wasn’t always this way.