When I was 4 years old, I was given the big news that I was going to be a big brother. My parents showed me a picture of an ultrasound. Not unlike most fully grown adults, I had no idea as to what the squiggles and blobs were.
My parents explained to me that the black and white squiggles and blobs were my baby sister and that God had put her in my mommy’s belly. I responded, “When I grow up, I’m going to invent a computer that takes pictures like this…but the pictures are going to be in color. Doctors are going to stand in line all the way out in the street because they’ll want to buy my computer.”
I suppose I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart—I was thinking of ways to build a business when I was 4 years old. In elementary school, I tried to sell original poetry and comics. I think my revenue totaled at roughly ¢10. I once explored the network marketing world and yes, I called everyone I knew.7 Startups you should never work for.
When I moved to New York City, I started a business with a partner. We ultimately disbanded the business because we weren’t making enough money—but it was a fantastic learning experience.
All that to say, I’ve had a few entrepreneurial endeavors and I want to talk about some things I’ve learned along the way. Though we ended on amicable terms, I want to focus primarily on the lessons I learned from my failed business.
1. It’s okay to think about money.
Let me rephrase that: you should think about money. Too many people think they’re going to be the next Zuckerberg—the next “accidental billionaire”.
Money isn’t going to magically fall into your lap. You need a solid business model along with a specific mission statement. If you think the money will follow suit just because you create a product, I’m afraid you are mistaken. There’s a difference between being an inventor and being a businessman.
Nikola Tesla was an inventor. Thomas Edison was a inventor and a businessman.6 Indian Startups that are valued over $1 Billion.
2. You don’t deserve a big paycheck just because you’re…you.
After my failed business, I worked as a web designer with a startup. This was our arrangement: I would freelance on site for a few weeks on a trial basis. If things worked out, I’d be brought on full time and I would get a nice salary.
They asked how much I wanted for a salary. My professional design experience consisted of:
• A business that didn’t make money
• Working part time for a church
• A few freelance gigs
• 3 internships
The salary I pitched to them was twice the salary I deserved. Being a typical millennial, I thought I was special (ouch). By the way, things didn’t work out. We ended on friendly terms but I was never brought on full time. They needed someone with more experience—go figure.
3. Wealth isn’t built over night…or in 12 months.
Building wealth takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of hard work. You probably won’t be a millionaire tomorrow. You probably won’t be a millionaire 12 months from now. That’s okay. You can get there.
Slow and steady wins the race.
Facebook and Snapchat are the exceptions, not the rule. Success requires discipline, sacrifice, and a well thought out (yet adaptable) strategy. We’re playing a game of chess…not Candy Land.