Stranger Than Paradise
I’m trying to launch my own business around my passion, incorporating my interests and skills in design, photography, spirituality and psychology. I have not yet found anyone out there doing anything similar - which drives me nuts and makes me nervous - but I'm keen to see how far I can go with this. I thought of giving up a few times, and the last hurdle hit me hard, but reading your content makes me feel more confident, as I also run low on resources sometimes.
Last week I asked you for feedback and I got some nice replies. THANK YOU! I got permission to publish the one above, which really hit me hard. I’m sure it resonates with you too.
Here, I’m going to break down this email into two parts so I can address some of the common challenges encountered when building a business:
A. “I have not yet found anyone out there doing anything similar.”
The reason we start building something from scratch is because we can’t find our dream out there so it seems simplest to create it ourselves. But God knows how hard and scary it is.
B. The cash flow problem
I've been facing this every couple of months, and every time, it's because of a different reason. The last time was after the second lockdown in Los Angeles, when almost everything that my team and I had been building for a year was destroyed.
Now let me share with you how I try to fight back against each problem.
I’ve always been a stranger, whether in my family, at school, in my country, or every single day since I became an immigrant. The problem was that I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to fit in.
It was wrong.
For some people, their destiny is to be the host, not the guest. To be the strong father and mother, not the sweetest child. The leader and not the follower.
If you can’t find ideas similar to yours, it’s a good sign. If you feel uncomfortable and not a fit, it’s a great sign. If you receive rejections, it’s life that’s talking to you: go and build your own world. Be the one that accepts others. Be the light. And as this email emphasizes: see how far you can take your strange dreams.
Now, as much as I was romantic in the first part, I have to be practical in the second part. Business is a fight. Sometimes we’re going to bleed. If you are like me and starting from zero, you need to fight for most of the first few years of building your own thing. And you will often see that your cash flow is going down. Here are some of my ideas for when you are running out of money.
You are not alone. Many smarter people than us have had the same problem. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Just know that this is the way.
In addition to whatever you are building (a magazine, media company, design studio, community, luxury fashion brand, etc.), try to turn your skills into tangible services for small clients. Every time I have cashflow problem, I get some video editing gigs. I’m good and fast at it, and I also have fun doing it. Usually, you won't get paid well, but these gigs are short and you can quickly get back to your main thing.
This one might not be for everyone: Think of yourself as a startup. If you are able to borrow money from your family, use a credit line, or sell a share of your biz or IP, do it. Don’t be scared. You are not getting into debt or trouble, you are investing in yourself. You are buying a runway for your startup. Do it smart and with responsibility and you’ll be fine. (Should you be VC-funded and get into the real game of startups? It depends on many things. I will probably write about it in a separate post).
Whatever you have is enough. Don’t buy any new gear and don’t rent a beautiful big studio. 2020 showed us that we can go far with whatever we already have.
Meet more people. Say hello to old connections and start conversations with others. People still help people. Just share your story.
And the last point, which I feel is the most important one: don’t let anything distract your focus from what you are already building. Even if you have to go and work for another company or even do an unrelated job for a while, don’t forget your own goals for your own biz or project. Continue to create, even if it’s for one hour a day. This was my biggest mistake when running my previous projects and startups.
God bless your creative minds! Get back to work now and continue to build your paradise!
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