I'd like to throw out another career related post, but this time down the entrepreneurship avenue while I have a few drinks.
One thing I think most people struggle with when it comes to actually going down the entrepreneur route is realizing how easy it actually is. In fact, at times some of the services offered are so simple and easy to do from your perspective you think, "why the fuck would anyone actually pay me a lot of money to do something they can figure out on Google in a few days?!"
We are all conditioned to be extremely risk adverse when it comes to making making money. We have an education system that is essentially the byproduct of the industrial age, which intended to teach people how to be productive members of the factory line. Because of that, we focus a lot on getting a normal job at entry level, learning the skills, doing the time, moving up, and just repeating the process as we become a better and better drone for the business.
We often choose to go down this route because it's easy. All the steps are clearly laid out, we are taught what we need to know, and assured that if we just follow the game plan, we can be assured that we'll be able to make X amount of dollars. And it works; it works wonderfully. Corporations have spent a very long time learning how to navigate and perfect this process of creating a healthy, safe, reliable, workforce.
Any thought of deviating from this pattern understandably elicits a sense of unknown and fear. That if you don't take this very clearly laid out path, and fail, you risk being seriously harmed. That running a business is more reserved for the really smart types that see a rare gap in the market, and are able to pounce on it and brilliantly execute a way to capitalize on this gap... or you have to find a product or service in which you can do better. You'll need to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants and bring to the market something that makes their lives easier which didn't exist before you...
In reality, that's not even close to being true. And you can see this from immigrants. Many immigrants that come to this country weren't conditioned the way we were. In fact, in many developing states, being an employee is something just for the young, while much of people's earnings come from self employment. So when they come to America, entrepreneuership is just natural for them. I always like to use my grandparents as an example of people who made it in their home country, lost everything, came to America with an education of middle schoolers, and managed to become very wealthy in just a few years. It always makes people wonder, "How can an immigrant just come to the USA with absolutely nothing, and end up running a successful business in such a short amount of time?"
Value is determined by the customer, not by you
This is a big one. Often, it's easy to look at something that costs, say, 100 bucks to purchase, then turn around and sell it for 2000 bucks and think, "Oh my, I'm ripping people off!" But that's far from the truth.
Let me use an example of a buddy I had in Germany. He ran a very successful web development company that focused on local businesses. He'd go into local shops who had a decent client base, yet absolutely no online presence. He'd then offer to create them a website from end to end (using Wordpress) and host it, for 150 euros a month. Now, to anyone with even a little bit of internet experience would realize that that's a huge fucking ripoff. The wordpress theme is a one time cost of 50 bucks, then you just have to add some custom copy, create a Yelp listing, a Facebook page, and then host it for 5 bucks a month after that. The whole project would only take a few hours to complete, so why the fuck would someone pay 1800 euros a year for something that can be done in an hour?
Easy. Value. Before my buddy went in there, these people had no website. And to them, having an online presence would net them more money a month compared with their 150 dollar investment, even though there are other companies out there who could do it for 1/10th that. Shit, GoDaddy has full service features for 150 a year which will do it. To themselves, they are idiots when it comes to technology, and my buddy was the first person to walk in and help solve their problem. The point is, that these people needed help, and you helped them, and your help is giving them an ROI
He now has a whole firm with 10 employees doing this around the clock.
A big realization moment I had was from a few years ago when I jumped on a project for a guy who needed consulting for his business. He was not very tech savy but an incredible sales person. And he was making an absolute killing selling things I considered absolute shit. I mean it. Like some of the services he offered were garbage, but he was making just ridiculous amounts of cash, because he was solving really simple problems for people who didn't know there were other options.
Some of his businesses:
Using QR codes to save large conferences a ton of money. Believe it or not, but the industry standard for tracking and checking in conference attendees is actually a really expensive business. The rental for each one of those scanners is about a thousand dollars. The software and infrastructure to use the data also costs an arm and a leg. A medium sized conference could expect to pay 10s of thousands of dollars just for something as basic as checking people in for their conference meetings and seminars. So he just figured he could hire some kid to write some software to do exactly that, and then tell the conference atendees to use their smart phones to check people in. He was able to undercut the competition by 75% and still made a massive killing on an unbelievably simple technology. He still does it to this day.
Another one of his was for government training classes. Many people working in government are required to take recurring classes to get certifications for dumb shit. So he approached different government agencies and offered them a training program, where he'd split the revenue from the optional online study guide 50/50 . And all he did was ask for a copy of the test, then create a multiple question study guide. Then sold it for 100 dollars to all people attending those classes.
Sounds retarded, right? But believe it or not, that's a huge value to the GO. Having a study guide available which increases student's ability to pass the tests, while generating revenue, is a great program.
He was making 10k a month off this program alone and rarely ever paid attention to it.
You don't have to be Facebook to be successful
I hear it all the time when people talk about starting a business. 95% of the time it's about some great big idea which will change everything. Seriously, I think about 70% of everyone I've ever met seem to only have these huge disruptive ideas that go nowhere because they are too big for their skillset and motivation. Yet, for some reason, people always overlook the relatively simple successful ideas. Too many people focus on things like disrupting our entire infrastructure, rather than focusing on how to help grandma figure out how to blog about her knitting hobby. The real money is at those lower levels, because there are so many people out there with so many problems, who are being completely ignored. You'd be surprised how quick people will be to pay someone to solve a problem that you consider common sense.