On the last episode I gave you a hint about what this episode was about.. I said this episode will help you “get there”, to work through the crap and to achieve your goals.. So here it is..
Ok first questions first.. Do you know who Elon Musk is? Elon Musk is the founder of Tesla Motors, the electric car company. Now worth tens of billions of dollars. He is also founder of SpaceX, a Rocket company.. Also worth tens of billions of dollars..
Good for him right?
Well it gets worse.. 🙂
He also started the idea for Solar City which grew to America’s largest Solar Panel installer at one point, if it isn’t already. It was his idea.. But he gave the reins of the company to his cousin and maybe his brother too.. Elon Musk remained the biggest shareholder in that company.
The Electric Car company, the Rocket Company.. And the Solar Power company all started and grew to billion dollar companies all over the same decade. Crazy right?
Don’t worry.. I’m going to get to the point here very soon..
But before these 3 companies.. He started a internet business called X.com , which was the same as what PayPal is now. In fact, they were so similar that a young PayPal and a young X.com actually merged together and became the one company… it was just the PayPal brand name that got voted in over the X.com brand when they had to choose one brand name to continue on with after the merger.
AND.. there was even a company before all of that, called Zip2.. which I won’t go into because I think you get the point… Zip2 sold in 1998 for $300million USD dollars of which I read that Elon Musk got $20million USD…
- What’s the worst that could happen? Right Elon?
Not bad right? For someone in his 20’s at the time.
And obviously the guy is a genius, great vision.. And a good brain for products… BUT..
What this episode of the Quick Marketing Trick .com.au Podcast is all about is.. A little trick that Elon Musk used in the early days.
There are other people who have used this trick too… one I remember reading was Ben Affleck the actor.. And Tim Ferriss the Entrepreneur, Author and Modern Day Business Celeb. There’s actually a lot more, I just couldn’t find a list of them, but you can look into that more if you want.
But getting back to it, In 1988 when Elon Musk, I guess was, first having the ideas to start a business and focus on his dreams and goals that he believed in.. he knew that there would be challenges… and that’s what this episode is all about.
A challenge he recognised, and that I’ve gone through too… and maybe one that you’re going through right now is.. The stress and worry of “what if it doesn’t work”..
Is this something you’ve worried about? What if it doesn’t work..
So back in 1988, Elon Musk said something to himself like the following.. “It’s pretty easy to earn $30 a month.. So If I can live on $30 a month just from a food perspective.. I will be ok.” So that’s what he did… he ate pasta with butter and salt.. And similar staple dishes… and he ate only $1 worth of food, over an entire month. Just so he could prove to himself that if his businesses didn’t work out right away, he would still survive.
$30 in 1988 would be somewhere like $2.40 today.. And remember that’s US Dollars.. So.. that’s about $3.10 Australian dollars per day as of the time I’m recording this.
The question here that he ultimately asked himself… and others have since asked is… “How badly do I want it?”
Now, you might be thinking something along the lines of .. well that’s fine for a 17 year old guy who can sleep on his friends lounge and eat pasta while he builds his business!!
To this I would say focus on the principle, and don’t take HIS example so literally.
Maybe you have a family. And you need more than $3.10 Australian Dollars a day.
Now I throw his question back at you, which is.. “How badly do you want it?”.
In a country like Australia.. We’re even more fortunate than 98% of other countries.. I asked myself this same question in the past:
What is the WORST CASE SCENARIO…?
When I was starting to work for myself and to build my own business… sales and clients didn’t roll in the door. It was months of no sales and no clients.. So I faced this same dilemma too… Questions came to the surface like
- “What if this doesn’t work?”
- “What if I spend all my savings?”
- “What if I’m left with nothing..?”
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Not that I would ever want to accept the worst case scenario… but if I wanted to have a successful company so badly that I’d do anything.. What would be the worst case scenario..
The two WORST cases I thought could happen were…
- I could go on the dole and rent 1 room in a share house / or move back into my Mums house / or move into a Caravan Park…
I don’t idealise either of this options.. But if I said to you:
“in exchange for a $1 million dollar a year company of your own.. All you need to do is live on the Dole, plus any family support benefits from the Government… live in the cheapest area of your city.. And travel only by public transport. At the same time you need to work 10 hours a day on your business. Do we have a deal?”
What would you say? If your answer is “no i wouldn’t do that… “ … well I wish you all the luck in the world because you’re probably going to need it more than someone who would say “yes, sign me up, I’d do that and more for my own $1m a year business”.
So that was my first worst case scenario.. Live on Government Benefits and rent a room in a cheap old house filled with other people in a share house.
- The 2nd worst case scenario I could think of was, getting a Part Time job of 20 hours a week, or even getting a Full Time job of 37-40 hours a week. And dedicating 1 hour in the morning to my company and 1 hour in the night.. Or 2 hours in the night time… and reducing my sleep by 2 hours .
I wouldn’t commute of course just to be in a bigger company with a bigger salary, because that would likely move me further away from my goal… with the long commutes, traffic, overtime, etc.
I thought I would work somewhere walking distance or within 15 minutes public transport travel from my house. There’s a few industry types that pay higher than the average.. And they are non-skilled. E.g. Factory line work, or working in a RSL Club, Bowling Club, etc.
I could work 16 hours every Sunday and earn about $800 before tax. For a worst case scenario… this is not that bad.
But you have kids and a wife or husband… yeah ok. I get that. Do they need spoiling with the latest this and the newest that? Or could the shiny objects the world throws at you be avoided for a 12 or 24 months , or for even 5 years if that’s what it took to build your company?
Could you live the worst case scenario, so that you could build your business.. BUT STILL l find 8 hours on a Saturday to dedicate 100% of the time to your family. Phone off, internet off, T.V off, and you play with your kids for 8 hours straight. Would that be more quality time then what you’re getting at the moment?
When starting my company… which wasn’t even a company back then. It was me at home during the day with a laptop and an internet connection. But back then when I asked myself.. Imagine the worst case scenario… how bad could it really get.
They were the 2 I drilled down to.
It wasn’t possible for me to live on the street, because I could sleep at my Mums hours if it ever came to that.
It also wasn’t possible for me to live on the street, because the Australian government pays support to people who are unemployed.
I asked myself this question because I needed to know, could I live with the worst case… or is it not worth it? Should I give up the dream of having my own company right now? And just work the same job I had before in the Corporate world?
Tim Ferriss takes this one step further…he is wealthy in anyone’s eyes. But he often talks about the thought of losing it all, and he realises that this is the wrong thing to be worried about. So what he does is… he practices poverty. Tim will wear the same plain, boring, and very non-flashy outfit for days at a time. And eat mixed beans, the same meal for days at a time.
This is practicing poverty.
He borrows the next bit from Stoic Philosophy … while practicing poverty like this.. He will ask himself frequently during the day…
“Is this what I feared?”
Meaning… “ Is this really as bad as I feared it to be, or can I still be happy and healthy?”.
This is an exercise just to remind himself what it’s like to have nothing. And ultimately… for him, it’s not that bad.. And also I assume to appreciate what he has now. You can learn more about Tim Ferriss at https://tim.blog
- Tim Ferriss TED Talk.
But it’s not for everyone. If this isn’t for you, that’s ok. But also you should probably focus on making your Boss happy, rather than building a business. People do get lucky and I hope that you’re one of them. I truly do. But fear of failing is a big big obstacle the majority of successful entrepreneurs and business owners need to overcome to face every challenge along the way for however many years it takes to have the business they wanted.
Whether it’s living on $90 Australian dollars a month… or wearing the same clothes for a week, turning off your internet and eating only staples…
..Facing your fear, outlining your fear… naming and writing down what the worst case scenario would be, is a very healthy and liberating task to do.
Take it one step further and practice it. Live it for 2 days. And then live it for 6 days… and like Tim Ferriss and thousands before him, ask yourself: “Is this as bad as I feared?” / or is it liveable while I work on building my company to where I want it to be?
This episode has been a lesson in making it work. Being prepared to work through the crap it will take to start and maintain a business during the early months or years. None of this are my original ideas, nor is it the ideas of the people who I learnt it from..
And that should be comforting, because it means that these are century old ideas. Fears and obstacles that people have faced for thousands of years.
There’s probably only a few things that separate people who make it, from people who don’t. And I think this episode, episode 21 and the previous episode, episode 20 are two of the small number of things that people who want to start a business and even people who DO start a business miss or get wrong.
In the next blog post ’m going to have a change of pace, and talk about Facebook Ads again.. After the thousands of Ads we’ve run and the millions of dollars we’ve spent on Facebook.. I want to share with you what type of image we’ve found to work the best, and get the best results on Facebook.
If you own a business, or thinking of running a business Facebook Ads will likely become a part of growing that business.. So in the next episode I’ll share what I’ve learnt about the type of image you use.
Best wishes until then,