Getting Started as an Entrepreneur

Recently I was talking to a successful professional who’s looking to make a transition and wants to be an entrepreneur. Of course, as a person thinking about being an entrepreneur, the best thing to do is to just do it (see JFDI). In reality, most people are measured and won’t jump in unless they feel like they have the right idea, team, and timing.

My recommendation is the same as Jason Fried’s of 37signals in his article How to Get Good at Making Money. The approach is super simple: test the waters of being an entrepreneur by going to local garage sales and spending $100 on stuff that you think will sell well on online followed by actually selling them on eBay. Here are a few of the benefits getting started this way:

  • It takes physical, manual labor to buy the products, list them on eBay, package them up, and ship them out — entrepreneurs have to roll up their sleeves and get stuff done
  • There’s a margin, or spread, between what the product costs and what it sells for, making it readily apparent what it takes to make a profit
  • Tools like eBay and Paypal aren’t hard but it takes time to learn them and make everything work
  • Spending $100 and 10 hours of time is a low cost way to test the enjoyment level of being in business for yourself
  • If you like it, try the whole process multiple times and see if you can make more money off your $100 each time

There’s an infinite number of things an entrepreneur can do to get started. Building an actual micro business with products and revenues is one of the best ways to start the entrepreneurial journey.

What else? What are your thoughts on how to get started as an entrepreneur?

7 thoughts on “Getting Started as an Entrepreneur

  1. Get started helping and working with other entrepreneurs for free. Experience is invaluable! And, learning what to do and not to do are just as valuable, especially when working on someone else’s dime. Being an entrepreneur is the equivalent to playing the lottery. You got to be in it to win it and some outcomes are truly a lottery type experience while others are either smaller wins or losses. Have fun in your pursuit!

  2. A variation on this entrepreneurial experiment is to bootstrap it… Instead of buying $100 of stuff from a garage sale, go into your own attic or basement and see what you can find that you don’t need and start selling it. Force yourself to find $500 in income for your family just by selling stuff you didn’t need anyway. Triple satisfaction: $500 in your pocket, a successful entrepreneurial venture, AND less junk in your house!

    (Or if you want to be bold, sell your favorite thing and see how much profit you can make… then buy a better/bigger version of it.)

  3. Agreed, I love this model, get started small and on ideally on the side. Set small (written) goals and reach them. Talk to lots of people about ideas, find out what their’s are. Network constantly.

    Motivation is also big factor in getting started as an entrepreneur. What do you value? Money, helping others, beautiful things, independence? Write down what they are and then look for ideas and ventures that align with what is most important to you. That way you’ll be more motivated and (down the road) enjoy life more.

    ~eric

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