“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”
– Drew Carey
Hating work does not make you an entrepreneur
Earlier today I read a post by Wall Street Playboys about online income being a futile pursuit. And I actually agree. The idea that you spend 30 minutes a day goofing off online and then wake up to 9 million dollars is stupid.
I’ve been doing Internet stuff since I was 19 and it took years before I started to do well.
People looking for a quick buck need not apply.
Working for yourself is infinitely harder than clocking 40 hours a week at most desk jobs.
However, going to school and aiming for the field that makes you the most money won’t guarantee success either.
In Iowa there are law offices sandwiched between grocery stores and hair salons. And I’ve seen investment companies sitting next to coffee shops.
Helping old ladies pick penny stocks isn’t Goldman Sachs.
There is no such thing as a “hot” field if you’re lazy
Entering a lucrative field doesn’t absolve you from hard work.
Schools are filled with guys who scrape by, fail to network, and make horrible choices. Anyone who graduates with a 3.0 and no connections to people in their field is going to struggle.
I was talking with someone who was complaining about the lack of opportunities their marking major had provided them with. No companies were hiring and they were now stuck with a low-paying retail job.
“Every local company has terrible ads. They’re sloppy and amateur. Why don’t you go around and offer to help them? There’s nothing to lose,” I suggested.
My advice fell on deaf ears.
Sitting around and waiting for some magical job opening doesn’t work. Whether you majored in English or Engineering, being average isn’t enough.
The “10,000 hours” rule is a lie
I like playing basketball. And I’m terrible at it. I’m not a natural athlete and still struggle with a lot of the fundamentals.
If I invested 10,000 hours into basketball I’d still suck at it. There’s no way on Earth that I’d be playing professionally.
Sometimes you just aren’t good enough to do something for a living.
That might go against a lot of self-help stuff, but its true. 10,000 hours of singing, playing basketball, skateboarding, or swimming would not be enough. I could spend every waking hour of my life playing sports and a talented high school athlete would still be able to beat me.
“Throw a ball through a hoop and get paid 20 million dollars” sounds simple until you actually try it.
The same goes for being an entrepreneur or professional blogger.
Yes, anyone can learn to make a website just like anyone can learn to shoot a basketball. But only a handful of people will ever make money at either. Quitting your job to start a blog about picking up girls might sound fun, but it isn’t a good idea.
I didn’t leave my job until my online earnings exceeded my 9-to-5 salary. It wasn’t hard to do, since I was only making $10 an hour, but I still played it safe.
That doesn’t make for a dramatic story, but it was the smart thing to do. As the old saying goes, “don’t gamble if you can’t afford to lose.”
Big risks don’t make you an entrepreneur. They make you an idiot.
Bill Gates is one of America’s most famous college drop-outs. He left school after finding a solution to a previously unsolved math problem and starting a handful of businesses (like Traf-O-Data).
While starting a new venture is always risky, it wasn’t like Gates left school to try his hand at something he had no experience with.
Quitting something because it’s hard is a lot different than quitting something because you have a better option.
You need experience (and lots of it) before you can succeed
People sometimes email me to ask for advice about their men’s blogs. It’s not uncommon for them to say something like:
Here’s the thing, those two didn’t click the “Help” button in Microsoft Word and have Clippy write all their content.
Both those guys had years of life experience, conversations, and great books that inspired them. They didn’t read one bestseller a year, look at two blog posts, and then whip up awesome content.
Sitting in a vacuum won’t do anything to help you. Cloning Tim Ferriss doesn’t help either. Guys who want to do something need to get their hands dirty.
Any business, whether online or not, needs an experienced leader to make it work. Deciding to strike out on your own without learning how to make money first will leave you very disappointed.
You need to be building something and learning in the field before you can just uproot and walk out on your job.
Five thing you need to learn before quitting work
- How to sell
- How to leverage a failure
- How to sit still and work for hours on end
- How to incrementally improve
- How to think for yourself
If you can’t sell you’re severely handicapping yourself.
My lifting coach has trophies and used to travel around the country competing. He’s met every bodybuilder and power lifter from the early 90’s. That alone should be enough to turn his gym into a massive success. Getting lifting advice from a guy who’s hung out with Sylvester Stallone is something that no one else in Iowa can offer.
Yet he struggles to compete against the chubby YMCA owner.
Because the YMCA guy offers a better price and cost is the only selling point my coach tries to use. I didn’t even know he’d won all kinds of events until he brought it up one time.
Lots of great products get marketed horribly. Take some time and learn how to sell something. One unique feature, that’s marketed correctly, will put you ahead of all your competition.
2. Leveraging failure
There’s a 100% chance that you’ll suffer some kind of “world ending failure.”
My review writing business was doing great until Amazon suspended my posting abilities.
Instead of whining, I got up and tried something new. It paid even better.
At some point you will face a barrier that forces you to change courses. Learn to take advantage of this.
3. Getting work done
Most people’s work consists of browsing Facebook and chatting around the water cooler.
That’s great when someone else is footing the bill, but it costs money as an entrepreneur.
If you can’t stay put until the end of a task, you won’t get very far. No one is going to give you extensions and a lot of clients are sticklers about deadlines.
Most failures, in general, are the result of laziness. Students fail classes because they don’t do the work, employees get fired for phoning it in one too many times. And businesses close their doors because they didn’t hustle.
4. Incremental improvement
Sometimes guys email me to say, “I made $10 online. How can I turn this into $50,000 by the end of the month?” While that is enthusiastic, it’s probably unlikely. Try turning $10 into a $100. It’s easier to do.
If you looked at all my ventures, the monthly earnings have increased in a non-dramatic way. My last six bank statements all went up, but there was no massive spike in profits. Taking a tiny success and making it a little bigger takes less effort than turning small success into a massive one.
Learning how to grow over time and be patient is an under-appreciated skill that most people never develop.
5. Thinking critically
If anybody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about gives you advice, roll your eyes. Dozens of people, who are not self-employed, have shared their “wisdom” (that they got from Tim Ferriss or Time Magazine) with me.
These people have never owned a business, and some of them haven’t even had a job, yet they somehow know everything.
Only listen to suggestions from people who are doing better than you. And use those as guidelines rather than gospel. Gary Halbert, my copywriting role model, could sell snow to Eskimos. But a lot of his ideas involving Internet business were awful (in one of his articles he claimed that selling things online would never catch on).
He’s great to study for his salesmanship, but there are other aspects that weren’t always accurate.
Everyone has weaknesses, don’t take all your advice from one source.
This post ended up being three times longer than I’d intended it to be (at almost 1,500 words). That’s why I’m going to keep the conclusion as brief as I can.
- If you’re only aspiration is to “make easy money,” entrepreneurship is not for you. Try and get a promotion at work instead.
- You need to enjoy working if you want to make any money in your chosen field. Mediocre effort yields mediocre money. Being a lawyer or accountant doesn’t automatically ensure wealth. There are plenty of unambitious lawyers and accountants who are working in offices next to the mall.
- Gambling is stupid. Especially if you can’t afford to lose. Finding a guaranteed way to expand slightly is better than betting on a slim chance. The Hail Mary pass is something NFL players use in desperation. If it was reliable they won’t use it as a final option.
- Most people who strike out into a new field already have experience to back their venture. Bill Gates already knew about business and computers before he quit school. Don’t go into something unprepared and expect to win.
- Learn how to sell, find opportunities in defeat, get your work done, grow, and think for yourself. Those five skills will take you farther than most “quick tricks” and “lifehacks.”