I am talking to my book guy in a couple hours and we’re going to review the book I’m writing right now called Level Up.
Every single thing that you do, whether you’re starting a new business from scratch or coming up with the idea, you have to validate it. You have to do some customer development as well. Maybe you’ll go to LegalZoom and get the right documents in place and get your operating agreement in place.
You have all those things you need to learn, and then after you figure out how to start a business, you need to learn how to actually get customers and build a repeatable process.
Basically, you’re just leveling up over time.
A lot of times, aspiring entrepreneurs will look to established entrepreneurs for inspiration. And they’ll see that everything is perfect on Instagram. Everyone is doing well. Everybody is killing it. They have nice cars. They have such nice lives. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to make ends meet.
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Sometimes, you can look at that stuff and get very envious. This happens to all entrepreneurs. The thing they don’t realize is that this type of comparison is pointless, and actually hurtful. You can’t really compare your chapter 1 to somebody else’s chapter 25, right?
So don’t just look at the present day success and the fruits of their labor—think about the labor itself. When I look at the entrepreneurs that have had multiple businesses or multiple bestsellers, they put in the work at the very beginning to get to where they are.
To give you an example, the billionaire Chuck Feeney (a great guy, by the way), pretty much the father of duty-free shopping, amassed an $8 billion fortune. He was once one of the top 10 richest guys in the world. And he’s well known for giving all that money away, before Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or any of those other philanthropists started doing it.
Here’s what’s interesting. In the book about his life, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t, the first half doesn’t mention his philanthropy at all. Instead, it talks about how cutthroat things could be in the duty-free world, how he had to fight tooth and nail to get to where he got.
What Chuck Feeney is known for today, his incredible philanthropy, came after all that leveling up he had to do to get to where he was as a business owner.
The moral of the story? No one becomes an overnight success, much less a self-made billionaire. You can’t just look at Instagram pics and think to yourself, “Oh man, I can’t wait to get to that point. I wish I was there right now.” You have to put in the time.
You also have to realize that you can’t try to take shortcuts all the time because shortcuts don’t work. Most people who come to me are the people who are looking for shortcuts. They’ll email me or send me a random message. And I’m like, “Dude, you just have to put in the time.” It’s not like anybody else around you is that much smarter than you. They just put in more hours than you have.
You just have to be patient, and you have to focus on beating the current level that you’re at, and then level up to the next thing.
Tony Hsieh of Zappos tells his team, “We’re honestly just trying to get 1% better every single day.” So take it one day at a time. You don’t have to try to do too much in one day. Just think about the 3 to 4-year journey, then the 10-year journey.
Whatever it is that you’re looking for, just be patient and focus on the concept of leveling up. That’s all you need to do. You just need to put in time for each level, learn a lot, take the experience, and then go to the next thing. It’s basic stuff that we’re all taught, but I think we all forget from time to time because we all go into auto-pilot around our daily tasks.
What are the mistakes I made in the last few years? Sometimes, I’m trying to do too many things at once. This year, I’m trying to say no to more things so I can focus on growing and leveling up the things that I already have. Because I want to play the ultimate game of philanthropy.
Whether you think of business as a game or you think of it as just gaining more experience, you need to level up.
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post: