Do you really want the full responsibility of operating your own business? This is not a rhetorical question. Some people genuinely thrive in this kind of scenario. I know I did not. In 2012 I had the enlightening experience of taking a six-week self-employment/solo startup program at a local community college, with a bunch of other recently unemployed people who also thought this was going to be an easy and freeing route to take, but the reasons for which I am glad I took the course are quite the opposite to those I had at the time expected.
For one, I learned that a business idea is only as good as the market demand for the product or service you plan to provide, no matter how much "passion" you have for providing it. I started a communications company (really a videography company) that I was very excited about because I loved making YouTube videos. What I learned about five months after launching my business was that I really didn't enjoy making videos for OTHER PEOPLE (ie. the market). I just liked making them for myself. Purely for fun. Yes, I had/have a passion for making YouTube videos, but my passion for it was just about eradicated after making less than a handful of marketing videos for other small businesses and organizations because it ended up once again feeling like work rather than the purely creative, spirited, playful joy I had tapped into when I was creating just to be creative.
I think where I failed in that initial attempt at starting my own grown up version of a lemonade stand was that I thought I had to think small but act big. Lemme e'splain:
Think small, but act big = starting with an idea for a small business and vague reason for starting it (eg. a video company because it would be cool to get paid to make videos) and then taking big bold steps to launch a company with a registered name (Rogue Wave Communications), website, business cards, and lots of expensive equipment... after spending weeks doing surveys and market research to construct a 25 page business plan to show investors... all before soliciting one client or making a single dollar.
If the point is to start and grow a company, then fine. I salute you, Mr. Jobs. Go forth with your awesome vision and change the world. But if the point is simply to build your bank account, to grow your savings and get out of debt, then f**k the business plan!
Think BIG, but act small = have a grand goal of making a whole bunch of money, but then go about getting your first dollar in the simplest, fastest, most direct way possible.
You should feel pretty jazzed about the fact that you don't need a business card or a website or investors or anything at all, actually, to make your first dollar. Or hundred dollars. Look around your apartment, garage, shed, barn, office, and find the stuff you're not using that you can sell and post it on Craigslist or EBay. If, for some reason, you're not sure what those websites are about, or you feel intimidated about using the Internet other than to read blogs like this, then host a classic garage sale to sell your stuff.
Make your first fistful of cash and then open a savings account to deposit that cash. This is your startup capital. The money you'll need to invest in your side hustle down the road. For now, it's enough. Actually, it's more than enough, because it's shown you that you need nothing other than a bit of time and gumption to get paid outside your regular job. You'll see it doesn't require an MBA to start hustling, and you don't need to worry about calling yourself an entrepreneur. You'll wake up one day and realize you're exactly that (most likely the day you quit your day job because your hustle has turned into a six-figure income) and you won't have to fake it till you make it. You'll just be making it (money, that is) from day one. Like, today.
So, that is the first step to getting all the wealth you'll need for whatever it is you need. Just sell something (or a lot of things) that you already own. Do it! Take a picture with your phone, post it on Craigslist, and before you go to bed you will be $2, or $10, or $50 closer to all your wildest, richest dreams.
Think BIG. Act small.
And just so you don't think I'm all talk, I can assure you I've taken this first step and have sold the following on Craigslist since the summer:
- soccer cleats, shin guards, and socks ($40)
- two small animal cages with accessories ($100 total)
- headphones ($15)
I still have to post several other items I have at my parents' house, including my bicycle, some other sports equipment, and some clothes, but I feel I've made a decent start. There's just something different about the feeling of earning money directly rather than through an employer. Something awesomely different.