I recently started trying to read much more than I typically do, and I’d highly recommend you do the same. I’ve got some numbers for you that you may find very interesting, then I’ll tell you about a great book I just read about how to start an incredibly successful business for under $100.
Check this out:
If you can imagine CEOs from some of the most successful businesses in the world, you may imagine that they’re generally very busy guys and gals – and you’d be right. Yet they still find the time to read so much. The average American adult 18 years old and older reads 12 books a year. A YEAR. Ask yourselves if you’re above or below the mean. Compare that to the 48-60 books a year that CEOs apparently read. They’ve probably got 99% of us beat. Again, wow.
It would be silly to say that reading will make you successful. But maybe there’s a correlation there. It seems to me that at the very least, exposing yourself to valuable ideas from intelligent people could definitely contribute to success. Remember the often unfinished quote, “a Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” The more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you can do.
Last December, living in Japan, I had little access to any physical copies of books in English. That was rough. I love reading but I also love being able to feel a book in my hands and turn a page. But then at Christmas I received a mind-broadening gift that opened my eyes to the value of e-books. A Kindle. Thanks, Mom and Dad. After I got that thing, I tore through a book about every couple of weeks. That still isn’t much compared to the numbers from the F500 CEOs but it was far more than nothing, and far more than I read when I had to go to a book store back in the States.
Now that I’m back in the States, I’m even more seriously focusing on studying and learning about business and entrepreneurship. I’m even committing myself to read one book a week and review it on my blog! So definitely follow for updates on that.
My most recent read was The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. It was a very interesting book about how to quickly (very important), easily (usually), and cheaply (most importantly), create your own business. This is a startup.
I’ll cover briefly a few of the main topics in the book and what I think about them.
Many people want to create businesses themselves to achieve personal freedom. I’m definitely in that category. To own a successful business where I’m helping people on my own schedule would be a dream come true.
To achieve that personal freedom with a business of your own, the first and most important thing that business needs to have is value to the consumer. What does that mean? A business above all else needs to help people. Helping people can look like anything. Going to a grocery store saves me the time and money of growing and producing my own food or traveling around to separate sellers to get everything I need. Fast food restaurants help me save time so I don’t have to cook the food I got at the grocery store.
Every business helps people. If it doesn’t do this job well, it surely won’t last long.
Your business should be something that you enjoy doing. But that has to be qualified a bit. As Chris mentions in the book, he enjoys eating pizza, but no one will pay to watch him eating pizza. Sometimes not everything we love to do is a marketable idea – meaning people may not want to buy it. But in some situations, some of our loves may be able to transform into marketable skills. If you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else too.
For example, some people enjoy playing video games. But who in their right minds would pay to watch someone play video games when they could play themselves? Well, you may know that YouTube and other sites now are full of kids and adults making money from doing just that. However, I would argue that they’re not selling the skill of playing video games. There are successful unskilled gamers and unsuccessful skilled gamers. I would argue that the successful video game players are successful because they have transformed their love of video games into the skill of entertaining people. It’s the good entertainers who get paid.
A less esoteric example could be a person who’s a whiz at using some product like Microsoft Excel, Evernote, Twitter, etc. You name it. An expert at the software may turn out to be a decent teacher. They could make a business of teaching others how to use the product they enjoy using.
Hopefully you have a few loves to pick from then consider how that can transform into a skill you can use to make money.
Once you have an idea and a way to give it to people, you have to put it into action.
This personally is a really difficult one for me. Starting one’s own business is inherently a risky thing. I don’t like taking risks if I don’t think I’m highly likely to succeed. That is, if almost everything is under my control and I can reasonably predict a successful outcome, I’m fine with it. But if not, I hate hate hate taking action.
It helps to know that being willing to go all in and take a big risk at a business is something that nearly every successful entrepreneur in history has done and come out on the other side, not unscathed, but ultimately victorious. Other peoples’ stories only do so much for me though. The saving grace of this for me is the fact that I’ve taken serious risks before and they’ve worked out to my favor. The most recent obvious risk I took was packing up my life and moving to Japan after a decision I made in just under a month. That was wildly risky. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made in my life with one of the greatest pay-offs in the end.
To make a successful business ideas and a desire to help people are meaningless if you don’t take action. I’ll take my own advice to heart and keep pushing to start something myself.
If you created a startup or are interested in creating a startup, please let me know where you are in the process! How did you get started? What are your successes? What were your failures? What did you learn? I’d love to hear your thoughts.