All Articles

4 Important Lessons I Learned From Jumping into Entrepreneurship Head-On

A lot of people start feeling super-awkward about themselves when they contemplate starting their own business…y’know, a tingley-feeling of “should I really be doing this?”  ”Will I uber-fail and people will think I’m an idiot?”

I worried about all of those things…but decided “to hell with it, YOLO!”, and gave up the idea of pursuing a “normal” career; opting to jump head-first into entrepreneurship after I graduated from college.

(I promise I don’t say YOLO in real life).

And I sit here 10 months later…reflecting back to all of the things I’ve done…

…some of them have been ingenious…

…most of them have been downright stupid, and can only be chalked up to a “learning experience”

So I decided to take my experiences…the good, the bad, and the shitty…and distill them into this super-long, heart-spilling missive.

TLDR??..if you’re serious about starting on your own, and don’t want to spend months making mistakes, take this opportunity to learn from my mistakes, and do better yourself:

[click to continue…]

Is Lifestyle Design a Bunch of Crap?

If you could live your life on a hammock by the beach, would you do it?

One of the biggest fads as of recent (last 5 or so years) is the concept of “lifestyle design”.  Popularized by Tim Ferriss in his book “The Four Hour Work Week“, lifestyle design could be described in a lofty, “I want to sell you my book” way as:

…those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lfiestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.  -Tim Ferriss

I had to read that sentence 5 times to figure out what the hell it actually meant.

I think an actually-useful, non-inflated definition of lifestyle design goes something like this:

Lifestyle design is the ability to craft your schedule in a way that you can essentially spend time doing things you want, without having a large series of obligations around work or other things you’d prefer not to do.

Basically, you “design” your life so that you can do what you want most of the time, get paid passive income for doing nothing, and have a grand old time each and every day, usually (but not exclusively) while spending your days in a hammock on the beach with a Corona at your side. [click to continue…]

The #1 Worst Reason to Want to be an Entrepreneur- Is it yours?

Do you want to be an entrepreneur for the most fatal, most killer reason out there?

When I first chose to eschew the prospects of a standard 9-5 career and nosedive directly into entrepreneurship, I was blissfully unaware of the challenges that laid ahead.

Cocky voice inside my head: “Come on RC, this won’t be hard.  You’re smart, you’ve got ideas, and you’re a badass sexy MOFO…get out there and make us some money!”

Me (replying to cocky voice): “Ok!”

Hah…how foolish I was.

Damn you, cocky voice inside my head.  Although I’m grateful you got me thinking about entrepreneurship and got me to stop making excuses and start doing, I’m pretty pissed off you had it all wrong on 1 crucial account:

You sold me the #1 worst reason to be an entrepreneur.

You thought it would be easy to just start makin’ money and plowing it in.

Voice: “RC, you’ll struggle for a month or two…but I bet you’ll start raking in some cash after about the third month….give it a year, you’ll be pulling in $60-70 grand easy.  We’ll be rich!”

At this point I get slightly freaked out the cocky voice inside my head refers to itself as an entity distinct from me.

What I’ve realized from my entrepreneurial journey is this:

Entrepreneur journey

There’s way too many metaphors in this photo that relate to my entrepreneurial journey to count.

If your goal going into starting a business is to make tons of money quickly up front, you’re going into it for the wrong reason, and you’ll not only a.) fail to meet your goals, you’ll also b.) cause yourself a mountain of unnecessary anguish along the way.

Why? [click to continue…]

3 Surprisingly Simple Steps to Overcoming Fear of Entrepreneurship

We’re always afraid of our first time:

Our first time driving

Our first time giving a speech

Our first time…you know…

But somehow, with all (hopefully!) of these things, we overcame our fears, and learned how to drive, speak, and…you know…

We overcame our fears because we actively learned about these things, and over time, we came to be pretty damn good at them.

But what happens if I tell you apply that same line of reasoning to entrepreneurship?

Just like you did with driving for the first time, what do you think about trying entrepreneurship, knowing you won’t be perfect at first, and aiming for long-term improvement?

Most People: “Oh no, I can’t do that!  What if I really mess up?  But RC that was just driving a car!    

Me: *facepalm*, walks away…

facepalm

I’ve already talked about how—by the end of the day—it’s up to you to call your own bluff  to stop making the excuses that keep you from embracing your inner entrepreneur and to start on your own.

But calling your own bluff is hard.  We’ve spent years being taught that we should go to college and to “fear risk”, and to be “grateful for our jobs“.  We’ve been indoctrinated into believing that entrepreneurship is “really risky”, and that the worry of failing is powerful enough to never try, and instead take an excruciating, soul-sucking corporate job in a kiddie-sized cubicle, complete with Windows XP and squeaky office chair with a broken back.

Can you really just call your own bluff and cast aside years of subconscious conditioning, just like that?

You can, if you think of calling your bluff in terms of specific, actionable steps, like the 3 here:

Step #1: Fight Fear with Facts

Do you fear entrepreneurship because you researched your options and considered specific paths and different strategies, and realized that your likelihood of success was small?

Or do you just fear entrepreneurship…just because it “seems” scary?

I wrote an article for the Change Blog about fighting fear with facts.  The notion is simple: the more you stop whining and start actually learning about what goes into success in entrepreneurship and in your field, the less there is to fear, because you will know what to do.

For example, before even writing a single word on Decoding Startups, I spent hundreds of hours researching content creation and blog development strategies.  This let me hit the ground running and gain an amazing number of awesome subscribers in record time.

My results aren’t by accident.  They sure as hell weren’t by luck.  Success came through fighting fear with facts, realizing that good ideas are “stolen”, and executing. [click to continue…]

2013- The Year of Focus and Getting Started

It’s December 31, 2013…

You’re sitting with friends, anxiously waiting for the ball to drop.

You’re laughing over a bottle of champagne, and your mind flips back to today…January 3, 2013…

Because you become philosophical when you drink, you’ll remember that you read an article on Decoding Startups pointing out that the way to accomplish success in life—whether it be in entrepreneurship, love, personal finance, losing weight, or anything—is through setting goals, and being in it for the long term.

What will life be like for the December 31 2013 you?

What will you have done?

Will you have followed through on your goals?

Will you have even set them?

Will you be sharing with your friends how your meticulously planned business venture paid off?

Or will you be complaining with your pals about how much your job sucks; and that you’d like to do something else, but can’t “figure out how”?

Will your 2013 be your year of accomplishment? 

Ramit Sethi, my favorite blogger who writes on I Will Teach You To Be Rich, calls 2013 the “year of taking control”…the year of actively seeking to understand ourselves and the world better–the “game being played around us” as Ramit says–and taking meaningful effort and undergoing meaningful change to accomplish great things.

For me–and likely for you too–that meaningful change comes through entrepreneurship.

And I want the you of December 31, 2013 to be proud: proud of your amazing accomplishments; proud of the execution of a new business venture; proud that you had the opportunity to learn amazing things through failure and success alike.

How is the January 3rd you going to make the December 31st you proud and successful?

I introduce you to the Year of Focus and the Year of Getting Started

[click to continue…]

Kickstarter Project In-Depth Exclusive Details, Part 1.

Today is your lucky day: I’m spilling some behind-the-scenes details of my Kickstarter project to everyone, not just my Kickstarter Insider’s Club members.

As you know, I talk about my upcoming Kickstarter project because I want you to learn from watching me try to launch a venture.  I may completely fail at this; I may be entirely successful…and that’s the beauty of the situation.  This isn’t just some canned “How-To” list written by some English-major intern that has never tried to start a company before.

This shit is real.

Normally, I won’t write in such detail about my Kickstarter on the main portion of my blog.  That luxury is reserved for members of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club, who gain play-by-play, behind-the-scenes access into my product’s development, our trials, and tribulations.

But I posted so much detail here today to clue you in as to the project’s details, and to show you what you’re missing out on if you’re not a member of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club (note- even if you signed up for e-mail updates here at Decoding Startups, you’re not automatically a member of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club!). [click to continue…]

What Gossip Girl taught me about entrepreneurship

What can a primetime TV show about the drama-infused social lives of 20 year olds living in the Upper East Side whose great-great grandparents had so much money that they don’t need jobs teach about success in entrepreneurship?

Not even a very nice car...

Not even a very nice car…

Enter gossip Girl: a revealing glance into the seemingly-glitzy, yet actually completely eff’d-up lives of people who have nothing but time on their hands and money in their wallets.  And what do they do with time when they’re not shopping for the perfect Patek Philippe to match their exactingly-chosen two-button, peak-lapel Canali suit, paired boldly with Salvatore Ferragamo Corrado shoes, Hermes Arc en ceil tie, Tiffany Metropolis cufflinks, and Ralph Lauren Purple Label Aston Gingham shirt?

Systematically fucking each other over, that’s what.

Ceaseless love triangles (I think there were a few love quadrilaterals), occasionally with someone from–gasp!–Brooklyn!…

…faux, fluid friendships formed around manipulation and chicanery…

…all for the sake of being the “it” girl…the “queen bee”…or using their trust funds to start companies with the purpose of proving to the world that they can “do it all on their own”.  …wut?…

…all neatly compacted into 1-hour segments that I like to watch on Netflix when I’m bored.

I hadn’t watched Gossip Girl for about a year, until it popped up as a recommended video on Netflix.

“Do I want to get myself back into this?”, I pondered…”‘cuz you know when you start, you’re not gonna stop watching until the very end.”

“Fuck it”, said I, and I took the plunge.

Sidenote- please do not think poorly of me, a 23 year old guy, for watching Gossip Girl. [click to continue…]

Kickstarter Quick Update- 12/18/2012

Today marks the big day for the launch of our Kickstarter campaign!

Even though it’s a big launch…things are going to stay a little under wraps for now.

Why?

We are getting the prototype of our product tomorrow.

In traditional entrepreneur-style bootstrapping, we partnered with a local community college to manufacture a prototype for us for a fraction of the usual cost of prototyping (this cost = free).  I am so looking forward to seeing this bad boy pop on out of the 3D printer, in all of its off-colored glory (they use strange colored plastic for 3D printing, and I don’t really understand why…).

We’d intended to pick it up Monday, but there was a delay on the community college’s side, so we’ll grab it this afternoon and get the ball rolling from there.

(Re)lesson #1- plans are important because the plan will never go as planned, so be ready.

[click to continue…]

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Follow my Kickstarter Campaign

As those of you on my mailing list are well aware, today is the day for a BIG announcement here on Decoding Startups.

Let me give you a little background info before hopping into the nitty gritty:

Ever noticed how most entrepreneurship articles are really, really useless?

Take this lovely article from Entrepreneur.com for example; the “25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs”.

Included amongst these so-called traits of successful entrepreneurs are pearly gems like “project a positive business image” and “become known as an expert”.

And think of other hackneyed, oft-repeated startup advice: “entrepreneurs are brave and strong!  Persistent through the most trying of times, an entrepreneur will not take “no” for an answer!”

WTF? [click to continue…]

Why not having a “good business idea” doesn’t matter at all (and what actually does matter)

Avoiding entrepreneurship because you don’t have a good startup idea?

I reached out to some of my new subscribers over the weekend, and asked them what their biggest obstacle to entrepreneurship was.

The answer I got the most: “I don’t have a good business idea.”

Whenever I hear people tell me they “can’t be entrepreneurs” because they “can’t come up with a good business idea”, I want to instantly go jiu jitsu on their ass and karate kick them across the room.  (Yes, entrepreneurship does bring out my usually-latent violent side).

Why do I go super saiyan on these poor, unsuspecting would-be entrepreneurs?  Is it because I watched too much Dragonball Z as a kid?  Do I just have issues that require professional help?  Or could it be because…

“Having a good idea” isn’t even a prerequisite to successfully starting a company! [click to continue…]