Experience is Overrated. You Must Play to Win. What I’ve learned from acquiring, selling, and creating 37 businesses.
When I started my first business at 12 years old, everyone tried to talk me out of it. I distinctly remember my middle school teacher saying that it’d be a “horrible investment” of my time because “9 out of 10 businesses failed.” I looked it up. She was right. So, I just went ahead and started 10 businesses.
A bit over a decade later, I have started, sold, and acquired over 37 businesses and I am lucky enough that I can work for myself and have employed more than three dozens of talented men and women in the process.
I’ll be honest though — I didn’t know much when I started, I was completely clueless. I sucked at math and numbers, and for most of my first few years, I didn’t have any clue how to read a balance sheet. I also had absolutely no capital, no mentorship, and no one to ask for help.
The funny thing is, that I was totally aware that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I just didn’t give a shit and did it anyways.
Today, many of my classmates and friends call me to work for one of my businesses or for an internship opportunity. The truth is that many of my classmates were far smarter, sharper, and better suitable to start a business. And if they had done so, I would probably have faced stiff competition and might not have been writing this blog. Because I’d admittedly be outsmarted and they would have made me go out of business.
So what competitive edge did I have? None. I just started, and they didn’t. There’s this lie that you’ll hear over and over again saying that it’s almost “impossible” to be successful. I beg to differ. The competition is pretty self-selective. Most of the talented, smartest people didn’t and don’t even participate. They sit out the game. And you have no chance of winning if you don’t play.
If you believe the mainstream media and the intellectual class, they tend to speak about “competitive advantage” as something that’s reserved for Harvard MBAs or old people with gray hair who have “experience” or worse- make it about gender or race or some other “privileged” BS. The real competitive advantage is starting. While many can write fancy research papers, debate on market trends, or talk you out of your ideas, they aren’t out there doing it. They aren’t out there hustling. They aren’t out there failing. They aren’t out there struggling and falling again and again and again and again until they fail their way to success.
Although I would probably have saved myself a myriad of difficulties, lost friendships and a normal childhood had I listened to my teacher and made the “wise choice” to first “get experience” and then start, I would not be truly happy, because I’d not be doing what I’m doing today.
But I don’t blame her and others. They are right. The first few times, it’ll be uncomfortable, you’ll have to shoot in the dark, you might feel unprepared, and there will be absolutely be times where you’ll be lost. But this is exactly what separates the average from the successful. Don’t give a shit. You’ll figure it out.
To all my fellow readers who are here to leave a legacy, stop over analyzing everything to death.
You’ll never know enough, you will feel uneasy and uncomfortable, and you just might fail. But it is only through this process that you actually get closer to your goal.
That sales call you have been putting off? Do it now.
That conversation you wanted to have with your boss about a raise? Stop putting it off, call him now.
That blog you were going to start? Do it now.
That podcast you were going to start? Start it now.
Take it from me, you’ll learn more from screwing up in real life than you’ll learn from hypothetical situations that someone posted on social media. That’s how it goes. The quicker you fail, the quicker you can change to succeed, and the quicker you will succeed. This is how you get better.
This the way of man. Leave the endless planning and thinking to the dreamers. 5-Year plans might be the status quo in Soviet Russia, but we all know how well that actually ended up working out for them.
And if you have any doubts of how far bravado can take you over experience, turn on your TV. You’ll see an orange-haired Reality TV star occupy the most powerful position on earth without any relevant experience because he didn’t give a shit and went for it. So why wouldn’t you?
- Prady Tewarie (@iampradyuman)