Just do it, young entrepreneurs gain so much more valuable experience by just getting out there and getting their hands dirty. You can talk all you want about how great your idea is, but without anything to show for it your idea is exactly that: an idea. Going around and preaching how you’re the next Richard Branson or how your product will make Microsoft knock on your door doesn’t cut it anymore. In a world where everyone has access to information, and where every Entrepreneur is in the first place a smart Bullshitter by nature, there is no lack of ideas and all what separates the big boys from the wannabes is execution.
It was not until I started going door to door selling that I learned the real meaning of the word entrepreneurship. Synonyms for the word should be schlep, bottom feeder, and hustler, because that is exactly what you are until you make it. Door to door selling really taught me the importance of valuing the time I have in front of my customers. They are busy people too, and vendors try to pitch to them all day. This leads me onto my first tip:
Go door to door and sell
This is what separates the haves and have nots, because going door-to-door sucks and people don’t want to talk to you. If you can continue to do this and not get discouraged, you will quickly learn what customers want. Trust me if you sell door to door enough, the odds are in your favor and someone will listen to you eventually.
I once was walked into an office trying to sell my product, and the office manager thought I was crazy. However she liked what we had to offer, called us weird for our unconventional approach, but she did end up hiring us.
Going door to door also teaches you to be creative in the ways you try to gain people’s attention. Call it bootcamp for your elevator pitch, because if you can get a customer to buy off a walk in you must have a pretty compelling product. That also means keep doing what you are doing.
The term is not used enough in entrepreneurship articles or publications, but entrepreneurship is a hustle. Hustling is everything for a young entrepreneur because:
- You are broke
- You haven’t done anything
- People don’t think you can make it
The art of hustling cannot be taught in a classroom, and one must learn it by getting out there and doing it. Michael Strahan said it best, “Hustle like you’re broke.” This will get you motivated to find success. I guarantee it.
Hustling also provides another great lesson: It teaches you how to leave your ego at the door. Entrepreneurs have big egos. Learning to know when to turn that ego off is paramount to your success. People will never buy something from you if you have this massive ego on all the time. There is a time and a place for that, but be humble, work hard, and people will respond to that.
For me creating a story around my business helped me tremendously when I attract new clients. It never gets old, because people love a good story. Create a story around your idea and why you think it is the best idea ever since sliced bread. People will be receptive to that rather than a product brochure.
Do not rely on one stream of income
Relying on your start up too early on as the sole source of your income can be very foolish, because:
- Your start up is not making money
- You will go crazy spending all your time looking for investors
- The little money you do earn should be invested into the start up
As a young entrepreneur, you really need about five different ways of making money. This way you can hedge the risk of going completely broke, and if one of them takes off, even better. The ability to get by enables you to focus your attention on your passions rather than some boring day job. Even though the day job may be a great experience, we all know entrepreneurship is the key to freedom.
Developing a diverse skillset makes you that much more valuable to your company. I was forced to learn photoshop in order to save my start up money, and now that skillset is invaluable. Learning photoshop enabled me to take control over my marketing material and rely less on my graphic designer. I mean I have an accounting degree, Photoshop is the last thing they would ever teach accounting students.
The biggest advantage of learning how to make money in different ways is the networking. This enables you to meet people from different backgrounds giving you a very diverse web of connections. You go around looking for advertisers and you end up with Marketing and Publicity executives in your speed dial. You pitch your startup to that angel investor and next thing you know you make friends with the old billionaire running that VC fund. You go ask for counsel from an accountant and you end up having lunch with him and his Wall Street friends. You may not get the money, but you’ll sure as hell make enough connections to make your contacts book helpful in times of need.
In the end, it all comes down to who you know anyway.