I don’t know if I’ve posted about this before, but it keeps coming up over and over again with people I talk who want to start a businesses, invest in real estate, start new projects, etc. Either they don’t have a new novel idea to start with, or if they do, they think the idea is worth a mint. The reality is that both of these preconceptions are dead wrong! Ideas are worth very little, it’s the execution that’s worth it’s weight in gold!
Let’s think about this a little… How many times have you heard someone say something like “I thought of that years ago. I should be a millionaire”. I know I’ve heard it a lot. The reality is that 99.99% of the general population doesn’t follow through with their ideas, at least not much past the first few months. Most people aren’t willing to put in the effort it takes to get an idea off the ground. And make no mistake about it, it takes effort. By the way, health gyms are notorious for using this to their advantage. They get you to buy a year membership, with an initiation fee, knowing full well that the majority of their members will stop using the facilities within a few months. Are you one of these people?
I can also tell you that I come up with potentially successful business ideas every day. The problem is that I can’t try them all out. You need to focus on one idea and push through it because it will take time for it to come to fruition. If you decide to invest in real estate, than expect it to take you many properties and deals before you can retire, you won’t retire on one golden deal (also you probably won’t have the experience to know what a golden deal is without some experience). In business the same is true, it takes time for a business to gain momentum and get off the ground. Don’t keep moving from project to project, which is easy to do as soon as you hit a speed bump or when you think of something new and exciting. If you study psychology at all (or probably through common sense), you’ll know that people like novelty more than repetition, so it’s very easy to get sidetracked.
On the other side of the coin, you have those who think they need to come up with a golden idea to make it. They think that everything’s done and there’s nothing they can do. Guess again, there’s lots of things everyone can do, you just need to put your mind to it. And please don’t ask me what you can do, that’s what you have to come up with yourself. Make that your first goal! Come up with an idea. Now don’t think it has to be original, it doesn’t. Just look at what’s happening in your area of interest, see what others are doing, look at who’s succeeding, and see if there’s more room in the market for you. How many grocery chains are there, movie rental chains, real estate investors, software companies, chocolate bar producers, tv shows, etc. You don’t need to be original, you just need to look at it from a slightly different angle. Maybe a higher quality, cheaper price, best locally, fastest, better service, etc.
The next major obstacle I often hear is that I don’t have enough money to get going. The reality is that if you think too big to start, than absolutely you don’t have the money. You might need to start smaller and grow from there. If you’re a real estate investor, start with a single resident home instead of with an apartment complex. Maybe one in a more affordable community. If it’s a business, look at something that can be started with your current capital. It can be as simple as a web service, a blog, a software application. You could even sell cookies, a lot of large companies have started this way.
Who’s familiar with the purple dinosaur Barney? How many of you know it was started by a mother (Sheryl Leach) in 1987 as home videos she wrote and filmed herself because she was dissatisfied with the selection of home videos on the market to amuse her own son? She produced three “Barney and the Backyard Gang” videos and marketed then to day-care centers and video stores until they were finally discovered by a PBS director in 1991. And the rest, to quote a cliche, is history.
So what are the steps to success?
1. Get started! That means now! We all have things happening in our lives, it’s just a matter of priorities. If you can find the time to watch any TV, then you can find the time to get started. I can tell you right now that for me it’s 11:15pm right now (actually I’m now revising this entry, minus some LandlordMax related sidetracks, and it’s 12:35am now) and I’ll be up on the computer for at least another hour or two working (as I’ve just confirmed). I live by the principle of work extremely hard for 5 or so years and then completely relax for the rest of my life rather than work moderatly for my whole life. So get started, find the time, it’s there.
2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. That is, stay the course. Yes, you’re all pumped and the first 2-3 weeks go flying by. You get some work done but suddenly its your friends wedding on the weekend. One weekend isn’t so bad. But the next thing you know you have a party you just have to attend, a supper, a celebration, a birthday. And then there’s the bbq the weekend afterwards at your parents. And not to mention the fact that it’s SuperBowl weekend right after and everyone meets up for that. Suddenly a month goes by and nothing gets done, so you stop working. The project pitters to a dead stop. This is exactly how health gyms make their money! Stay the course. Push yourself. Set your priorities. Know what’s important to you and live accordingly.
3. Educate yourself. This means spend time AND money on educating yourself. I think I’ve read every book there is on real estate, business, marketing, sales, software development, etc. I try to read one book a week that’s related to what I’m trying to do. Yes I still read the odd novel, but again, base your priorities on what you want. A novel to me is like going to the movies, so I read them when I need a break. Not all my books are interesting, actually I can tell you many are really pretty boring and hard to read, but the content is worth the effort. Try to read a lot of what will help you succeed. The unfortunate side is that it’s not always the most interesting material.
Also attend seminars, talk to people in your industry, join like minded groups. For example, I belong to several local groups, the latest of which was just formed. This last one is a group focused on generating passive income here in Ottawa that meets once a month to discuss any and all passive income opportunities available out there (stocks, real estate, automated businesses, web sites, etc.) Take the time to educate yourself, you’re worth it.
4. Spend on yourself. Most people think that they can start a business, invest in real estate, and so on, with just time. It’s possible, but don’t be afraid to invest money on yourself. I can’t tell you how many people get flustered when I start to share my expenses in regards to LandlordMax and FollowSteph. They’re all pumped to get started, but as soon as I suggest they look at investing $500-$1000 on themselves and their idea, WAIT A MINUTE!!! “I don’t know, that’s seems like an aweful lot of money.” Well let me put it another way, if you don’t even believe in yourself and your idea enough to put down a little money on it, do you think anyone else will? Why are so many people afraid to invest in themselves? I don’t understand it. Don’t they realize that their employers are doing just that, they expect to make more money from their labour and skills than they pay them (that’s how business works)? I can’t imagine a world in which I wouldn’t be willing to invest in myself and my ideas. I do it all the time. Actually, I’ve been known to be a little trigger happy in this regard. I’m willing to take the chance sooner than later as I’m a big fan of trying rather than theorizing. After all you can’t debate with results, right or wrong (and I’ve proven myself both right and wrong many times).
5. Stay focused. I can’t even count any more how many people have asked me to co-venture with them… From small to larger projects. In the past I would generally hear everyone out, consider their ideas, and possibly be interested, in the least I’d offer some guidance. Today I have a different perspective. After having gone through it so many times, I now tell people that if they have an idea they’d like me to consider as a co-venture, come talk to me again about it in 6-12 months, whether or not they’re succeeding. Why 6-12 months? Simply because I want to see if they’re going to stick with their projects. Again, it all comes down to the fact that the vast majority of people, good intentions or not, will for some reason or another, start to lose interest in their projects within a few months. All I’m trying to do is weed these people out. So far I only know of a very small select few people who’ve gone beyond this! I don’t care whether their succeeding after this time, everyone has different areas of expertise and maybe its something simple their missing, maybe it’s not the great idea it seemed, maybe its an amazing success I missed an opportunity on, it doesn’t matter. I’m personally not interested in any co-ventures unless the person has put in at least 6-12 months of effort, to show me that they’re going to stay the course, that they’re focused, that they’re not just another health gym statistic.
6. Stick to your idea, test it. Lastly, don’t run away as soon as you hit a road block. Get past it. Go around it. Go in a slightly different direction. But keep moving. I can’t tell you how many people hit a road block and stop. If I did that with LandlordMax, well I wouldn’t be here. It’s now been over 3 years now, 4 if you count the year in which I created the initial version. If you think there weren’t some brutal road blocks, think again! To use one of my favorite quotes from I can’t remember who: “It took me 10 years to become an overnight success!“.
And with that, let me just say, you can’t make a journey around the world without first taking a step, so take it! Henry Ford put it another way: “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Or as a fellow business owner and investor of mine, Glenn Scott put it: “I would rather see a stupid do’er than a brillant dreamer“.