Tag Archives: business

Arbitrage your Basement/Garage/Life

Hey Friend:

If there’s one thing I took away from the movie Fight Club, it was when Tyler Durden said:

The things you own end up owning you

It’s a simplistic but profound statement considering our American culture and society today. We all have become consumers. We’re working for dollars that are quickly spent on services and products that we rarely need to survive. Only about 30% of Americans have more than $1,000 dollars saved in their bank account. I find this utterly disturbing. Maybe you’re in the 69%. If you are, you really should take this post to heart and make a change today.

It all started with a cleaning day

I recently started playing golf and so I wanted to make room in the basement for a new putting green to practice and hopefully improve my skills during the off-season. During the basement clean-up process I came across an overwhelming stack of boxes and items I had quickly shuttled down to the basement during our move-in day a few years back.

I must have been carrying around this large heap of “clutter-ibles” (things I think are collectible) for a couple of decades. Sadly, a bunch of baseball cards that have been coming along for the ride for years are now pretty much worth the weight of paper they’re printed on. But I found a lot of stuff that may actually be useful to someone else. This all triggered a moment for me… so I sat down the broom and got to work on a plan.

Sell baby Sell!

The catalyst here really was the Fight Club movie quote. These things that I’ve been carrying around, that I’ve been telling myself are valuable or will be used again at a future date, were holding me back from extracting their true value today. What good does an inanimate object do for you if it simply sits in the basement or garage collecting dust? Clothes in your closet you haven’t worn since the last decade? Shoes? That appliance you swore you would fix? Nintendo 8-bit console and games? These items all have some intrinsic value to someone, so let that someone buy these items from you and remove the burden. Release yourself from the bonds of housing these things you supposedly own, because right now they’re getting free rent and lying to you. If they were really an investment, would you have them in your garage or basement? Wouldn’t they be giving you some sort of value? That’s when you know you’ve invested in something.

I follow Gary Vaynerchuk and saw a while back he gave a challenge to his social media followers to sell their junk and/or buy and sell items to make a $20,000 profit in 2017. Although I didn’t accept the challenge then, however this pile of stuff in my basement triggered a moment where I thought, I could at least get $1,000 for this stuff. So I dusted off the old e-bay account (talegenllc) and started taking photos of the items and posting them up for sale.

After two weeks I had sold almost $1,000 in stuff! I was stoked! This was so much fun I thought! The endorphin rush was legit and as I freed myself from these items for cold hard cash, I felt a weight starting to lift.

After 2 weeks, I had sold almost $1,000 in stuff.

Selling Junk leads to Inspiration

So after getting a boost in entrepreneurial spirit from selling on e-bay I wanted to take the idea a step further and explore a simple side-hustle that could potentially bring in $1,000 or more a month for my family. Arbitrage simply stated is to buy and sell goods for profit. Over the long term, the junk in the basement was a loss, but the idea of being able to strategically buy something to sell at a profit is intriguing. It inspired additional discussions with my wife (who has never really been entrepreneurial) about starting a side-business with several different streams of revenue. One thing lead to another, and we’ve got Talegen, LLC formed with our brand: First & Will.

I’m so excited at this point it’s really hard to contain myself. I have a wife who’s on board with the idea of working a small business to make additional income for us all. The potential for growth is really in the sweat equity we both put into the business. Just working a few extra hours a week, I’ve already sold $936.43 worth of items from our basement. I can’t wait to see what unfolds for us this year.

Hope you all are doing well and take something from this post.

Best,

-Rob

Pivot your life: How to become motivated

Motivation-200x200Lack of motivation is the primary killer of any bootstrapped business. I’ve talked about this in the past in my post regarding the desire to succeed. It’s not enough to just go through the motions of starting a business, or even running it. You’ve got to be motivated, and for those of us born into a world of instant gratification, this is a really tough attitude to maintain.

I’m not going to claim that even the most motivated individuals (think Tony Robbins dancing over a bed of hot coals) don’t have their down days, but I can probably assume that they don’t carry that lackadaisical attitude into the next day, week, or month.  Many of us find excuses to avoid the inevitable hard work that is necessary; whether it be for our business or for another chore we’ve put off, we come up with an excuse about why it isn’t getting done.

Without you doing hard work, any work, it does not succeed. Your business does not live.

Some of these excuses might actually be more important to us at the moment: Spending time with loved ones, taking care of important family matters, personal events, etc. These are all higher priory items over a business; and in almost all cases always should be. I would however suggest that your business is also a part of your family. It is a part of you; you are the soul of that company. Without you doing hard work, any work, it does not succeed. Your business does not live.

Some of you might even be running your business part-time, and are limited even further on time each day because of this. So how do we get back on track? You might feel overwhelmed by the large amount of work ahead of you. Let’s be real, that work will not get done if you give it lower priority to watching TV with the significant other. We must remember this; more importantly, our loved ones and family must understand and remember this as well.

So how do we change the current path of lethargic enthusiasm? We must pivot (to use a ‘lean’ term) how we are living our lives. If something isn’t going as planned in our lean business we pivot and go a different path. We must do the same with ourselves when we find we’re not succeeding in completing tasks for work or elsewhere.

My assumptions are that you’re in the rut you are because you aren’t following a structure that helps and promotes the motivational spirit to succeed with your business or goals. With that in mind we should follow some simple steps to help stoke our desires once more and get back to succeeding in business and life.

Step 1. Visualize your end result. This might sound corny, but you want to mount a bulletin board in a visible place within your office or home (or you can use the fridge w/ magnets too) filled with photos and phrases of all the things you desire for your business, your family, and yourself. Don’t be shy about it; put a Ferrari or Corvette on there, a big house, a check for $100,000 made out to your business, photos of a beach resort you want to visit, places to travel to, children in college, etc.  What these will do is offer a visual reminder of your original desires and goals, so when you walk by them each morning, you’re passion to achieve these goals is ignited.

Step 2. Get Organized. Scrum is an Agile software development framework that among other things, promotes a way to meet goals within a time-boxed environment of uncertainty and change. It doesn’t just work for software development however. Create three columns on a whiteboard labeled: To-do, In Process, and Done. Write your goals down on post cards and affix them to the board; then break these goals down into manageable tasks and sort them by priority and effort. If you can’t get a task done within two weeks, perhaps it needs to be broken down further into smaller tasks. Then, take one or more tasks and plan to finish them within two weeks; what is called a Sprint. If it doesn’t get done in that two-week period, it goes back into the to-do column. What this process does is allow you to clearly visualize your work goals, be realistic about the tasks and time needed to finish the goals, and create a visual plan to work toward those goals within a two-week period. I really like the Scrum framework for software development and task planning in general and it really does help keep your focus on the smaller parts of the big picture, which in turn helps reduce any feeling of being overwhelmed with work.

Step 3. Get Inspired. Find a mentor, or follow someone (ehh emm) on Twitter/Facebook/Blogs who you aspire to be like. Subscribe to Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc. magazines for inspiration. I follow everyone from ABC’s show Shark Tank on Twitter. Mark Cuban in particular via his Blog and his book. The stories of successful entrepreneurs inspires me to succeed. I follow successful people. Not to be envious, but to keep reaffirming with myself that if they can do it, so can I.

Step 4. Publicly Commit to a goal. When you announce to everyone you plan on doing something, you usually hold yourself accountable to getting it done to avoid the embarrassment of failing. I haven’t been doing a good job of that myself. This blog was intended as a way to do just that, and I plan on doing more of this in the near future. There, see, I did it! Post about your goals on Facebook or Twitter (assuming you have an account and friends) and let the feedback fuel your desire to follow through on your intentions.

Step 5. Don’t Quit. When you fail at meeting your goals, don’t give up. Everyone falls down. It’s how we continue after failure that gives us the empowerment to succeed. A business venture I was invested in closed recently but we haven’t give up. I plan on pivoting the business into a new venture with a new direction and plan on that being a success. Roll with the punches and reach out for help if you need it.

The most important part of these steps is to make them habit. Like a healthy lifestyle, this is not something that you can just do for a few months and then everything will be different. You must commit to changing who you are and how you act by following these new steps. Your old methods weren’t getting you motivated so you need to pivot and change your life for the better. This will not be easy. Just like starting a workout regiment every day of the week (I’ve done P90X3 for 3 months now) it’s tough work to change for the better. Once these attitudes and life changes are habit (It should take a few months before it’s a real lifestyle change) you’ll find yourself more motivated than you ever felt possible.

I’m no Tony Robbins, but I know dancing over coals isn’t about magic, but about a positive state of mind. Get going!

These are a few steps to get you motivated. If you know of any other great motivation tips, feel free to add them below in the comments!

Desire To Succeed

Working At Night

Let’s get something straight from the start. There is no exact formula for creating a desire to succeed. There’s always going to be something that at some point will deplete your willingness to get motivated.

That being said, the number one cause for inaction towards success is in my opinion fear.

As a wise Yoda once said:

Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to misery.

The fear of not being able to succeed, complete a project, or causing irreparable harm to one’s finances has most of us convinced that we cannot do what we want to do on our own as an entrepreneur. The fear of not being able to pay the bills if we quit our day job to pursue our dream is usually a big one. That fear leads us to stay in a safe place, usually still working for someone else and it’s understandable for some in today’s job market. But that fear… and the inability to act grows inside us…  and leads to anger. Angry that we’re not doing what we want or being who we want to be in life. That leads perhaps to a “hate” of the work that we do and eventually the misery we endure at a job where we know we may be under-appreciated or working on things that prevent us from awaking each day with blinding inspiration.

Someone I trust once said:

Be crazy. Get out of the rut and do something different. Just leap.

I however would add the following disclaimer: If you jump, there’s a launch velocity you need that cannot be achieved without a desire to soar.

Which leads me to my conclusion. Desire, is at the core of anyone that achieves success. It is the number one destroyer of fear. The level of desire has to be all-encompassing. Simply stating “boy won’t it be great when I succeed” is not enough. Your need to succeed must be like a need for air to breath.

I WILL DIE if I do not succeed!

That level of dedication can be found in those who have nothing to lose.

I do not advocate quitting your job tomorrow without any sort of direction, financial plan, or safety net in place. If you have a secure day job, make sure you have about twelve months of total expenses saved in the bank  so you can at least survive with little or no monthly income coming in while you build your business. If you’re without a job now, then you already have a financial motivator to have the burning desire to succeed at whatever you put your mind to. Focus on that goal, plan, and act. With your new-found burning desire of success you will meet your goal.

Lastly, we must not forget that your family must be on board with your desire to succeed. Many relationships are strained early on when wives and husbands are working long hours away from the family building their business. The family should not be neglected but they should know that without hard work, extra hours nurturing the business, your dream will not be actualized. If they truly care about you they will give you space to grow your business. Now get off the computer and go give your loved ones a hug!