If I can do it, so can you: How I turned a $1,000 business started in my one bedroom apartment to a $7 million business in 10 years

Why it’s so hard to leave the rat race

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.

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Fail your way to success in business

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).

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Start a successful business by being average

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.

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So you want to start a business. “It’s not the idea, stupid.” (And other secrets successful businesses don’t want you to know.)

Secret #1: Resist the “inventor mentality”

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.”

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Somewhat retired at 45: How I went from zero to $7 million

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.

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