“A person's hand holding up a roll of dollar bills” by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash

The First Rule of Entrepreneurship

Make Money

I have no fun stories of having the hustlers mentality when I was young. I didn’t sell candies, toys or lemonades to my classmates. I was, much like everyone else, into consuming rather than producing. I would play video games or watch anime.

All my entrepreneur icons and heroes have a story on how they always had it. In a way, I have a tinge of envy with their life experiences. How I wish that I grew up with the same kind of hustle and tenacity.

I am twenty-nine years old, and I feel like I’m late at the party. My friends who have businesses are already scaling their ventures. And here I am crawling my way to make a buck.

But I would like to tell myself, and to you that it is never too late.

Now is always the perfect time to start working on our entrepreneurship skills. There’s no use sulking over the past, what we have is the present moment, and we should capitalize on every opportunity that comes our way.

The first rule of entrepreneurship comes from an acquaintance whom I met here in Bali. He’s a successful person who’s built a massive amount of wealth and is now reappropriating his assets to real estate. He used to work on his online businesses that flourished.

I was asking him about details about forming a US LLC, opening a US bank account, and other legal matters. He cut me off and told me a lesson that cut through my heart like a knife.

Learn how to make money first.

Common sense, but often overlooked. He was able to exceed 100,000 dollars in revenue before he figured out a way to legitimize his business. He didn’t need all the variables to align, he made it his top priority to make money.

Since I’m an entrepreneurship noobie, I looked for ways to make money. I gave myself permission to make money on the smallest scale.

It doesn’t matter if I would only profit one dollar from a transaction.

I went over to a commercial bookstore and looked for books that are on sale. I bought a couple of them and had this idea of reselling them to another bookstore that sold used books.

I was nervous and afraid that they’d notice I was reselling them books from a famous store.

But I had to sell those books, cause I had no plans of reading them. When I got in the store, they didn’t notice. They bought the books, and I made my first sale.

It’s that easy? This is too good to be true. I didn’t do anything.

That moment gave me confidence that I have what it takes to build a business. I know it’s not as easy as that, but the principles are the same.

I was in Starbucks Ubud this morning and was looking at their merchandise. They had all sorts of tumblers. When I inspected them one by one, it was apparent that Starbucks was not manufacturing those items. They merely plastered their logo and called it their own. It was the same trick I did with the books, minus the private labeling.

The first rule of entrepreneurship is learning how to make money.

What kind of business do you have in mind? Do you want to build a product? Do you want to offer a service?

Devise a plan where you can make the smallest buck you can make. It doesn’t matter if it’s one dollar as long as you get the hang of it. This is our version of childhood experience of reselling candies or toys. Or selling lemonade that we made using raw materials.

This exercise will stretch your mind into thinking like a businessman.

Shift your headspace from consumption into creation. When you see a product that catches your attention, ask yourself — how did they make it, what’s the profit margin, how can I replicate this model?

Talk to you soon my friend.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 333,253+ people.

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