Last weekend I attended a business conference focused on global impact. Many of the speakers focused on entrepreneurship and best startup practices, both in the US and abroad. They shared their experiences and gave all sorts of practical business advice. They discussed how to treat your employees, how to impact the community, what investors look for, and many other topics.
There was one topic that they all touched on, no matter what their focus. Every last one of them said that if you want to start something, you have to first take action. You have to take that first step with the information you currently have, even if you don’t yet have a clear picture of where you are going.
I Sold a Phone
Last week I made $35. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But it is better than zero dollars. I made it by selling my old phone on Ebay. It had been sitting in a drawer since I upgraded to my new phone over a year ago. I recently listened to a podcast interviewing a guy who built a million dollar business. He encouraged listeners to just start something, even if it was selling something on Ebay, Craigslist, or Amazon. If you want to increase your income, you have to get started, even if it is very small. I took him up on the challenge.
I had never listed anything on Ebay before and didn’t know how long it would take. Within five minutes, I was up and running. The first buyer didn’t pay. He was a scammer who hoped a newbie would ship it before receiving payment. It took a couple of days for Ebay to process my claim to cancel that order, but filing it was simple. Once I relisted the phone, it sold in less than 24 hours. Commence celebration dance!
The total time in invested in the project was probably about 20 minutes. I made $35 for only 20 minutes of total work. That is over $100 an hour. Of course, this isn’t sustainable because I don’t have an endless supply of old phones. The bigger win is that it showed me in a few simple steps that starting something new doesn’t have to be intimidating.
The Most Beautiful Grant Writer
My wife is also an incredible example of this. When we moved back to the states, she decided to homeschool our kids full-time. While she enjoyed this (at least most days), there was a part of her that wasn’t fulfilled. She realized she missed the sense of accomplishment her former role as a Director of Communications provided.
She wanted to homeschool our kids but also wanted work she enjoyed and helped meet this sense of accomplishment. It would have to be something she could do from home and fit her schedule. Not being able to find a job like this, she looked for a way to leverage her skills. And she found it. It was grant writing.
She decided to start her business doing freelance grant writing. This was the perfect fit for her needs, but there was a problem. She didn’t know how to write a grant and never started her own business. She figured I could help on the business side, but she was on her own for grant writing.
How did she overcome this? She spent $12 on Amazon and bought a book. That book provided her with all the information she needed to take the first step and get started. Now she has grown it into a business that works around her schedule. And while there have been many other steps along the way, she had to take that first step!
Why We Don’t Start Things
When I ask people if they have an idea for a business they would start or what they wish they could do, almost everyone has an answer. However, most of them will never take the first step to attempt working toward this dream or making money outside of their current job.
Why don’t we act? Most of us have the same answer: FEAR. “What if I fail?” “What if it hurts my reputation?” “What if I lose money?” These fears keep most of us from taking the first step to start this journey.
A a starter, I really appreciated the entrepreneur’s advice. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a millionaire or you want to make an extra $35. The key is to overcome those fears and take that first step to get started. I didn’t know what selling on Ebay looked like, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t rocket science and I could figure it out. And hey, I was right.
I want to challenge you to start something new this week. I don’t care if it makes money or not. The key is to learn that taking the first step towards starting something new is not as hard as you think. This could be selling something online or putting pen to paper to start dreaming about your future business. It could also be learning a new instrument or language, or even taking a new way to work or talking to a person you’ve never met before.
It’s simple, do something new. All you have to do is take the first step with the knowledge you currently have! You can figure out the rest along the way.
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