I have to get this off my chest folks.
Today I received a call from an international student from a developing country who just came to Canada to start his university studies. Hungry for opportunities, he wanted some help opening his company to start Amazon FBA business. He has done his homework: located a US supplier, researched the product and tested the demand in the niche market.
He has done all of that without spending a single dollar. All he needed is a professional accounting and tax advice on how to structure things properly.
I contrasted it with another story that I hear at least once a month from my friends who are grinding their day-to-days in the corporate world. The story usually goes like this: “I am thinking about opening a business, but really can’t because: I don’t have ideas, I wasn’t born rich, I have kids, the economy is bad, I have a mortgage, my wife is not going to support me etc.”
You name it.
Let me tell you something straight. You don’t need all the stars to align for you to start a business. Same goes for quitting your job, reading all business books out there, ordering business cards, building a website, buying a phone line, submitting registrations, getting your mother’s approval…
Out of all the things, the number one you will need is a customer. Ever heard the saying: “You’ve got a customer, you’ve got a business”?
You see technology has changed the way we do things, but not people. Your business should still solve a problem of another human being. That may be an ages-old problem in evergreen industries like food, medicine or real estate. Or it may a new problem like running Facebook marketing, web development or SEO. All you need to start is a Fiverr-like offer: “I will solve this problem for this price.”
Of course, it is not going to be easy, if you decide to take the plunge. In this noisy world full of snake oil salesmen, Youtube experts and sceptic naysayers, you will need to find your audience and your voice.
You will also likely fail in your first attempt, but you will learn a lot while doing so. Dealing with bad customers, doing your own marketing, perfecting your offer will be the best life lessons you will ever have.
But don’t get discouraged too much. The common wisdom that 9 out 10 businesses fail is a myth. According to Statistics Canada, “about 85% of new businesses survive for one year, 70% survive for two years and 51% survive for five years.” As you can see more than half of businesses survive after five years and that is nowhere near the 90% mark.
Jeff Bezos, now the richest man in the world, once said:
“When you think about the things that you will regret when you’re 80, they’re almost always the things that you did not do. They’re acts of omission. Very rarely are you going to regret something that you did that failed and didn’t work.”
Starting a business is not a be-all-end-all solution. It is hard, grueling work on your way to freedom and self-fulfillment. It is not for everyone. You can also find your calling on the right job at the right company by working with the right people. I have been on both sides and have found personal success on both paths.
But whatever pill you choose to swallow, just do it and stop poisoning yours and your closed-ones’ lives with regrets.