And keep that same energy.
Successful people understand it’s hard to create a business or a product that aligns with your mission. Especially, one that satisfies a need in the market. People who have been through this process know, you have to be committed to finding yourself. You have to be committed to finding people who will appreciate your services. That’s it. This does not mean every idea works. It doesn’t mean the ideas which work also advance your mission. It doesn’t mean you’ll have fun or be enamored by your work every day. It does mean you have to work. Hustle. Grind. Find your field. Find what’s important to you. Try to find something you’re capable of doing which the market also values. This is a process of trial, error, and learning. With each iteration, you will get better.
Most people think working for yourself means you must be happy. They think it’s easy. They think because you have a business that you must be successful. They think there's something magical and you have life figured out. None of this is true. Investing in yourself is still a risk and often tedious. But, you can always adjust. You can always switch up the product or service offering. Your business plan is malleable.
Find your inner hustler and grind your way to success.
I’m a doctor by training, but a hustler by spirit. Under the white coat, I’m laid with a tailored shirt, dripped with gold chains, and draped in a well-cut suit. Find your inner hustler and grind your way to success. Most businesses are not flamboyant or innovative. They just work. As a midwestern city boy, I had to find my way. I sold my used toys just to come up on a new one. I fixed bikes on the block for a quarter. For an extra dime, I could clothes-pin a playing card to the back of the bike frame to make it sound like a motorcycle.
When I got into middle school, I used to house-sit, dog-sit, and cut grass. Then the internet got popular and “free” music could be downloaded. I would make mix CDs and albums for myself using cutting edge CD writer technology. Each disk could hold about 60- 80 minutes of music. I’d pack a disk with 18 songs from artists *Nsync to Juvenile. My friends noticed I had custom playlists on my CDs and, they asked me to make them some, too.
A small business was born. I would charge $3-$5 for albums which had premade song lists But, I would charge $8-$10 for a mix cd with songs of the persons choosing. It took time to download each song file individually, but I knew that time=money. And boy did I make money.
My friends, wearing their Girbaud denim outfits, would chase me down the hall to hand me their list of songs. There I was, 13 years old, having an impromptu consultation meeting in the hallway between classes. I’d skim the list and estimate how many songs I’d still need to download to create the masterpiece for my client. “So this new Jay-Z album isn’t out yet. I might not be able to get this song. Just in case, which other song would you like me to throw on?”
I knew my product. I knew my supply chain whether Audiogalaxy, Napster, Imesh, or Limewire. My mom’s dial-up internet dragged at the time. Before long I heard, “James, it’s time to get off the internet.” Three days later, I’d trade a shiny new CD and case for $8. If they wanted a custom cover with album art then I’d get $10. The cd walkmans in my school were bumping all the new tunes almost entirely from my supply. I had the market cornered.
I would go to school on Monday after a weekend of making CDs and come home with $50-$100. How many bags of chips, candy, and pops could you buy with that? Plenty, but I was smart. Blank CDs and labels cost money. So, I had to save some of the cash to put back into the business. I spent a little on fun, reinvested some in myself, and saved some for bigger purchases later. That was the real hustle. It trained me on how to do business for myself.
At the time, I loved music. I downloaded music for myself anyway. They called me CD Man. It doesn't matter what they call you. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it works. Stay committed to exploring yourself and exploring the market. Be true to yourself and bring value to the people around you. You will work out the rest. Develop a hustler's spirit and keep that same energy.
Until next time my people.