Building a Business
I want to talk with you about building a business and the power of entrepreneurship. I know that word is a buzz-word these days but that’s because there is so much good that comes from this capitalistic society in which we live and the ability that each and every one of us have to think of an idea and, more importantly, MAKE it come to life.
Now, I need to throw out a disclaimer because, inevitably, someone is going to say to me, “Ryan, you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be a man.” Please understand me, in no way, shape, or form, do I believe that. We’re simply talking about something that has been beneficial in every single person’s life – whether you’re the entrepreneur or you’ve enjoyed the benefits of the entrepreneurial spirit.
If you’re an employee of a company, cool. If you’re working up the corporate a ladder, cool. I don’t think less of you and I don’t think that makes you less of a man.
The second disclaimer I need to make is that I am not an expert. I am learning how to build a business myself. I feel like I’ve got some things right and I’ve got some things wrong.
I grew up in an environment that was anything but entrepreneurial. I didn’t sell or trade baseball cards on the playground. I didn’t sell lemonade on the side of the road when I was a kid. I didn’t go door to door offering lawn mowing services. My mom has always been an employee. So, business ownership was the furthest thing from my mind.
What I want you to know is that I don’t have some course or book to sell you. I have no vested interest in the information I’m going to share with you other than it’s been working for me.
Good, now that we’re clear let’s talk about this.
After all my years as an employee working from company to company and job to job, I’ve come to the realization that there is just something about having the pressure on my shoulders. That, if I win, it’s because I made the right choices and did the right work. If I fall short, it’s my own fault.
That to me is empowering because it means that, when I do fall short, I have complete and absolute power to fix it.
What’s also amazing in building a business is the process of having a moment of inspiration and nurturing that idea to a viable strategy, then working that strategy over and over and over again, with a lot of reflection and analysis, and creating something that people value and want and are willing to pay you for. All from a simple idea. Synapses firing in the brain. That’s incredible to me.
So, let’s break down some lessons. Of course, I’m not going to have the time to share everything with you today but I think, if I can share 3 or 4 tips, tools, techniques, and strategies, you can begin to see where you need to focus some of your time and attention as you work on your business.
THE PASSION DEBATE
The first thing I want to talk with you about is the “passion debate.” Some people will tell you to find something you’re passionate about and others will tell you that’s a fallacy and that passion can be developed later (if you want to hear more about the latter, you can check out my interview with Cal Newport, author of Deep Work at www.orderofman.com/063).
Quite honestly, I don’t know if it’s one or the other. I think it’s probably a combination of both. I do believe that, if you truly want to create a thriving business, you better, at a minimum, be interested in the subject.
I think a lot of people chase the money and, while it’s important to take a look at market trends and strategies, I think we live in a place and time that you can make money doing just about anything.
I’ve had ups and I’ve had downs in my business and, without some level of interest in what I’m doing, I think I would have given up on this thing a long time ago.
If you can’t be excited about it, you’re going to give up quickly and never get to that point where you are engaged in the deep and meaningful work Cal Newport talks about.
IN IT FOR THE LONG-HAUL
Which leads me to my next point. And, that is that you should be in this game for the long haul.
I started Order of Man in March of 2015 and I didn’t make a single dime until November of that year (I only made $1,100 that month). That meant a lot of late nights, early mornings, and weekends of busting my tail to get this thing up and running without any compensation.
If you don’t have the entrepreneurial mindset that this is going to take some real dedication, discipline, and a whole lot of time, you’re not planted and grounded in the reality of the situation.
Most internet gurus want to talk with you about the short-game. They want to talk with you about how easy it is to make money and how they were an overnight sensation.
I think some are just trying to deceive you and I think others forget what it took to reach the level of success they enjoy now.
Playing the short game also keeps you from making good decisions. If you’re playing to win immediately, you might make some decisions on products, offerings, and/or messaging that will help you now but hinder you later.
YOU ARE NOW A MARKETER
And, on the subject of products, offerings, and/or messaging, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need to know that you are now a marketer. You’re not an entrepreneur, or business owner, or salesman.
You are a marketer.
Now, a lot of people will say the product is the most important thing. I’m not going to tell you that because that’s a given. You must have a good product! Everyone already knows that.
But, if you can’t market your product, you’re dead in the water.
You are now a marketer first and a “fill in the blank” second.
Marketing is about knowing your audience. It’s about understanding their pains and frustrations. It’s about sharing your product or service in a way that resonates with those pain points.
And, if there’s one thing you need to get better at when it comes to marketing, it’s the ability to tell a good story around your brand, product, and service.
And, on a finer point of marketing (and, this is the last point I’ll talk with you about today), it is imperative you find a way to stand out.
It is so easy to get lost in the sea of sameness!
One of the unintended consequences of the beard that I have is that I stand out in a crowd. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been able to strike up simply because I look different than everyone else.
Another point of difference in my day to day life is the vehicle I drive. When I’m cruising around town, I drive a topless ’76 International Scout. I have so many people come up to me and tell me about their first car or how their dad would take them camping. My Scout is an instant barrier crusher. It’s unique. It stands out. And, people are always interested and willing to talk about something they don’t see every day.
That’s what I have for you today gentlemen.
Again, not every man needs to be an entrepreneur. It certainly is not for the faint of heart but, I can tell you that I get a little chill up my spine when I see a man have an idea and breathe life into that idea for the benefit of himself, his family, and the people he is there to serve.
We live in an incredible time (unlike any other time in human history) where the barrier to entry to building a business has never been lower. What a huge blessing that is for all of us.
As for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.