Why You Should Be Working For Free
As he sat in his small apartment and watched the two men on the grainy television, an idea began to form in his mind. If a relative no-name fighter could earn his way into the ring to face one of the most well-known boxers in the world…
His mind raced with possibilities. Could he do it? Could he make it work? Does he have what it takes?
Want to listen? There's an audio version below
Before writing “Rocky,” Sylvester Stallone was beyond broke. Though he had $106 in the bank, he hadn't paid rent, his wife was pregnant, and everyone in the apartment (including the dog) was underfed.
But when Stallone watched the fight between unknown Chuck Wepner and world champion Muhammad Ali, things began to change. An idea about how a fresh face rose to take on the giant began to take form, and that idea would change the world.
Before success comes work, lots of it.
Before money comes unpaid bills, repossessed cars, student loans, late nights, blue box macaroni and cheese, and sometimes empty bank accounts.
Before you get paid to do what you love, you've got to work for free. And to set the example, I'm offering my latest book Exit Strategy for free (the whole book, not just a few chapters), just click here to see the details.
Why You Should Be Working For Free
Of the entrepreneurs who get started, most of them quit. I've seen it time and time again. And, I'd be lying to you if I said I'd never thought of quitting myself.
A few years ago I went to a conference in Las Vegas called New Media Expo. It was there that, for the first time, I was able to rub elbows with bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers and other media creators for the very first time.
There were almost 3500 people there that weekend. Where are they now?
Many of them gave up. Most of them quit. Few are around today.
But why is that? Why do so many entrepreneurs quit?
Our Fast Food Lives
Over the past 30 years, our American culture has gotten used to the idea of immediacy.
Instead of going to the grocery store, hand-picking fruits, vegetables, and meats, and going home to prepare a meal, we go to Taco Bell. Instead of grinding beans, measuring the grounds and waiting for the perfect cup, we go to Starbucks. And now, you don't even have to wait in line, you just order from your phone, even if you're on your way, and your latte is ready to pick up at the counter when you walk in. Or, like my friend Paul, you just tell Alexa to place your order for you!
Nobody waits anymore.
Want quick wins. We want to get what we want, almost before we even make the decision that we want it. And companies like Amazon are getting good at telling us what we want even before we know it ourselves.
Building a Business Isn't Like Picking Up Fast Food
Building a business isn't instant. Seeing success and getting results isn't immediate. It takes time to build a solid foundation. And most great things are built on the backs of fixed mistakes and hard lessons learned.
But too many people think they can get it (whatever “it” is) right the first time. They're afraid of making mistakes and doing things wrong. However, oftentimes, doing it WRONG is a pre-requisite for doing it RIGHT.
Ya, you read that correctly. To be successful, you have to do it wrong BEFORE you can do it right.
Too many aspiring entrepreneurs are afraid of failing, and their fear keeps them from seeing success.
They're afraid, and they don't even know it. Many of my clients tell me,
Oh, I'm not afraid of failure.
But I rarely see them out there failing, making mistakes, risking ridicule, and learning.
We learn more from our failures than we learn from our successes. When something goes wrong, we can diagnose the problem, fix it, and implement the solution next time. But when we win, we don't always know why, so we can't figure out how to replicate our success.
How to Become a Michelin Star Chef
For Christmas, I enrolled my wife in the Gordon Ramsey Teaches Cooking Masterclass. Though I'm not a chef, nor do I particularly like cooking, I've looked over her shoulder as she watched several lessons.
During one of the videos, Gordon shares the story of how he went almost broke to learn from some of the best chefs in Europe. For more than five years, he made no money, but he learned.
And, as he learned, he grew his social network, built a reputation, and positioned himself to become the multi-starred Michelin Chef he would one day become.
To put it another way, Gordon Ramsey postponed profits today so he could develop the skills he would need tomorrow. He was willing to start from the bottom and build a solid foundation.
Becoming Pablo Picasso
You might be the Pablo Picasso of what you do, but if no one has ever seen you paint, you will sell nothing.
That's what I told one of my mastermind groups last week.
I work with a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs who are hesitant about working for free. They've got bills to pay. They have kids to feed. They have things they want to buy.
I get it. They want to make money.
But building a business from scratch is INCREDIBLY hard, and it takes a significant amount of time and effort to make it happen.
Before The Beatles made it big, they played in seedy bars all over England. Before Sylvester Stallone became a household name, he almost went bankrupt writing screenplay after screenplay. Before J.K. Rowling became the first writer to make a billion dollars, she was living on government assistance.
But I Don't Want to Work for Free
Can you make a lot of money WITHOUT working for free first?
I think so, but there's a catch.
Since there's always risk in business, you could simply shift the risk. You could move the risk from working for free to investing in a college degree that might not land you your dream job anyway. You could shift the risk from betting on yourself to betting on an employer's preference for keeping you around.
There are very few sure things in life, and entrepreneurship isn't one of them. Yes, you might work for free, build the wrong thing, paint the wrong picture, write the wrong manuscript… but at every step of the way you're learning and improving.
To achieve great, you must risk great.
Some of the most successful companies in the world were started on a dream and a wish. Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Harley-Davidson, and Disney, were built by entrepreneurs working out of their garages. And, if you're so opposed to working for free, instead, think about your efforts as an investment in your future.
Your garage workshop might be your home office, your paintings could be recording videos or writing books, and your screenplays could, instead, be learning how to sew or cook, but working for free is a 100% proven way to build a business.