Flashback in time: I’m 26 years old, my girlfriend is pregnant, and we’re living in her parents’ basement rent-free because we were that broke.
I’d just started writing about a year before that. I wasn’t making any serious money with it yet, but at that point, I knew it was something I wanted to do long-term.
I’d heard that writing books can help you make an extra income as a writer.
I’d already attempted and failed, to write a book before, so I started doing more research on how to do it. Eventually, I came across a guy named Chandler Bolt and his online course called Self-Publishing School.
I thought to myself, “Could this work, or is this guy scamming me?”
The course cost $750 dollars — about half my net worth at the time. I bought the course. I didn’t even tell my girlfriend because I knew she’d flip. A few months later, I published my first book and made my first dollar online.
Fast forward five years, and I’ve made multiple six-figures online, quit my job, and my work reaches millions of readers per year.
I’m guessing you’d like to achieve a similar goal one day. To do so, you have to shift your mindset. You don’t need a ton of money to get started, but you do need to have the right attitude.
The Mental Equation You Must Make to Invest in Yourself
You don’t need to spend $750 on a course to learn how to build a successful business. You can learn all the information for free online. But let’s say you are interested in something like an online course to shorten your learning curve.
Here’s the way I suggest you think about the investment because it’s the way I thought about my first investment. $750 is a lot of money. At least it was to me back then. I remember thinking to myself, “At worst, I lose $750. Tough. But I’ll survive. But I don’t want to be in a position where $750 is a lot of money to me for the rest of my life.”
How much is your future worth? What dollar amount do you put on your freedom, flexibility, hell, your sanity? The vast majority of people end up in jobs they either hate, tolerate, or enjoy, but don’t really love. This should be worth risking everything you can, within reason, to get out of.
So why don’t people either heavily invest their time or money into something like building an online business?
There are a couple of reasons:
- It sounds too good to be true — And it is, most of the time. Most of the time, people never build their dreams. This is just a fact. But, you have to make up your mind that you’re the exception to the rule. Delusion is a requirement. And it’s worth it. The worst thing that happens is nothing happens.
- Loss aversion — Humans are wired to weigh losses more heavily than gains. You have to fight against this by understanding the true long-term losses of staying in the same spot forever.
- “Risk” — Most people have a backward concept of risk. Starting a business with relatively low capital requirements isn’t risky at all. Going into tens of thousands in debt and having one source of income is incredibly risky.
Your mind has been warped so badly that, statistically, you’ll spend the rest of your life doing something you don’t really like just to pay off debt with interest payments that are, long-term, 100x more costly than something like an online course.
If you want to be a part of this game, you have to rip the band-aid off now and decide that either your time or money or both, is better spent up-front, right now, instead of slowly letting it slip away for the rest of your life.
The Good News
You have to be extremely broke to not have enough start-up capital to make money online.
So many of the business models are cheap. Here are just a few examples:
- Medium — You can make money writing on Medium without paying a dime. You just need access to the internet.
- Affiliate marketing — You can get website hosting for as low as $5/month and start a blog that promotes products you get a commission on
- Freelancing — Again, basically free if you have access to the internet
- E-commerce — You can start a Shopify store for as little as $30/month. Ideally, you’d have four figures to play with to build a huge business, but if you don’t have that much, you have to start where you are
- Kindle Publishing — On the low end, you could publish a kindle book for a few hundred books. I spent roughly $5,000 on my most recent book and made that money back in the first month of sales
I could write a list of 100 business models that range anywhere from 0-$1,000 start. Maybe I will.
The point? You can start small and grow over time. When it comes to finances, you have to choose what to make a priority in your life.
People complain about not having enough money to start a business but many of them have $1,000 phones, Netflix, car notes, random subscriptions, and all these expenses that seem necessary.
If you are truly in dire straits, you have a choice to make when it comes to what you’re willing to sacrifice. If you never start that business and level up your career, you’ll surely stay at the same spot for the rest of your life.
When I first started writing, I’d often write in the library using their computers and free internet, plus I’d check out books for free as source material. No excuses.
You can come up with the money. And it doesn’t take that much to get started. It just takes a serious attitude.
If I told you that I was going to kill one of your family members unless you came up with $5,000 by the end of the week, you’d find the money.
If I could somehow prove that unless you brought me $5,000 by the end of the week, you’d go to jail for life, you’d find the money.
You’d beg, borrow, and steal under those scenarios.
I ask you, why isn’t your freedom just as dire as those situations?
The Secret to Online Business Success
Most people make the mistake of thinking they need to become a marketing expert to successfully make money online.
No, you need to stick with the fundamental core competencies of your field, get really good at them, then expand.
If you want to sell products, focus on selling one product or one core set of products really well before you imagine this business conglomerate.
If you want to sell a skill, focus primarily on getting good at that skill — to this day, my 2–4 hour writing sessions are the bedrock of everything I do.
When it comes to marketing, keep it simple. Choose one primary marketing channel. For me, that’s my email list. If you want to dabble with social media, become great on one platform first before you move onto others.
Avoid the need to be extremely professional and have insane production quality to everything you do. You don’t need a fancy website — I’ve seen seven-figure businesses run from a single landing page. You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment — I started my YouTube channel using the web-cam on my computer.
When it comes to educational resources, you don’t need to follow a ton of experts. I relied on 2–3 blogging and publishing experts for advice on building a writing business, that’s it.
I could’ve spent time breaking down every little technical aspect of starting a business, but the attitude matters more than anything else.
Starting a successful online business is similar to getting in shape. You know what you have to do, but you just need to do it.
I hope my personal story of being down, out, and broke, yet still giving this a shot, inspires you to do the same. I know you think the dream is distant and that the gurus you see online have been successful the entire time, but they all start at zero.
The biggest source of motivation is thinking about how you want your life to turn out at a deep enough level where you’re inspired to change.
Start there. Hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side.