I still remember the book that forever “ruined” me from being able to live as an employee. It was Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki. Sitting there in the bookstore in Knoxville, Tennessee that day, getting extremely excited reading all about a way of life completely foreign to my own is something I will never forget.
My IQ would say that I’m smart, but it didn’t occur to me back then that you could actually pursue a path in life that would allow you to take responsibility and control over your future.
But reading that book changed everything in a blink. All those years ago, that was one of the biggest ideas I’d ever encountered. I could take charge of my own success instead of waiting on someone else to grant it to me.
Overcoming the Two Biggest Hurdles to Business Building
I had two big obstacles standing in my way when I got started in business.
First, I had absolutely zero belief in my own value. Second, I had absolutely zero understanding about how to sell anything. As you might imagine, I did not experience instant meteoric success.
But I kept going. I kept learning. I kept screwing up. Most of my early screw-ups happened in conjunction with my brief (and miserable) career in multi-level marketing. To say I was terrible would have been putting it kindly.
I still remember the sheer terror I would feel as I’d prepare to pick-up the phone and start dialing numbers of strangers who’d (supposedly) requested information about building a business. I could only afford (thanks to the credit card) to buy about 6 of these names per month. Six!
It’s been too long to remember clearly, but I doubt if there were two months in a row where I actually spoke to all six people. Either the leads were bad or I just chickened out and kept putting off my calls until “tomorrow.”
It should be obvious enough that I never managed to get anywhere in that business.
Living as a Self-Confident Lemming
Eventually, I started to get the hang of things. And I discovered that I had a natural gift for persuading people by writing letters. And then the internet publishing business thing came along and well, the rest is history. I’ve been doing that ever since.
As I got more experienced in business, however, I started hearing things that led me to believe that my business wasn’t… real. My business didn’t have an exit strategy. My business didn’t really run if I left it for a month or three. I didn’t have any employees.
All of a sudden I felt like there was a problem. Like there was something I needed to fix if I wanted to be on the winning side of having a “real” business.
So I started listening to people with “real businesses.” And I tried to figure out how I could build one. I even hired an “employee” once, for about 7 days!
I got swept up in a dream that was not my own, and I wasted a lot of time on it. I was a business lemming and I had no idea.
But then I wised up. And I stopped running towards building a “real” business and just decided to be ok with building a business I actually wanted: one that could actually support the life I wanted.
You might refer to it as “the business of my dreams.”
Building the Business of Your Dreams
The business of my dreams includes only me.
The business of my dreams has zero employees.
The business of my dreams can’t be “sold” and actually needs me to run.
The business of my dreams has little overhead and almost ridiculous profit margins.
The business of my dreams provides income in exchange for big ideas that serve others.
The business of my dreams makes me excited to get up in the morning and do something valuable for others.
The business of my dreams pays me very well to actually spend my days doing something I love to do.
Many might say that the “business of my dreams” can hardly be thought of as a “real” business. I used to listen carefully to those individuals. I listened to them until the day I realized their counsel was leading me to a place I had no interest in going. I thought they had something I didn’t. But that wasn’t the case.
They had something they wanted. They didn’t have something I wanted.
Only you can chart the course that is right for you in business and in life. And in order to figure out what that course is, you can’t spend all of your time listening to other people. The answer has to come from you. That’s the only way it can be right.
You can certainly learn from others, but that help can never replace you as the navigator of the ship called life.
It’s pretty exciting when you finally start building the business of your dreams. But there’s only one person who can define what that is for you. And that’s the person looking back at you in the mirror.
[Ed. Note. Jason Leister is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has seven kids and lives and works in the mountains of Arizona.]