Your story is your business!
What if you could turn your personal life to a business or a company? Today I'm going to share two stories about two different entrepreneurs-in-the-making, each of whom is building a business around their own life. My goal is to show you that you already have everything you need to start your own digital journey as a creative person in 2021.
Flowers and cinema theory
Last week, a client approached me for consultation.
His journey is unique:
He grew up on a farm in a conservative small town in the middle of the US. Having always been different from his family, he eventually moved to a larger city to study film theory. However, when he graduated, he didn’t know how to fit into the actual cinema industry. He felt behind the times, having no practical experience.
He tried a couple of different business ventures, but ended up losing whatever savings he had. In those years, he struggled with severe depression.
At some point, he disappeared for a long time.
He moved to the west coast, where he connected with a world of spirituality and learned how to heal himself. It was then that he happened to find work on an organic cannabis farm and began learning from some of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry.
Now, one year later, he is planning to start a line of smokable CBD flowers and create an online brand.
An entrepreneur for 2021
The first thing he told me was:
I want my story to be the drive behind my business, and I want to share it directly with my customers. I want to tell them how and why I transformed.
I loved the guy already!
He was headed in the right direction. The only thing he needed was a practical road map for content creation.
This idea that you can connect your life, stories, and passions through a digital business is absolutely revolutionary.
The old playbook of building a digital brand is dead. If you want to win today, you need to build your biz around a persona, a mission, or a cause.
You can track this notion down to some of the best e-commerce brands (like HODINKEE) or design studios (like JJJJound) all around the world. Companies that got started just by blogging and curating what their founders genuinely believed in and loved.
The Second Story
Let’s go to Thailand, where Dan, a 23-year-old tech guy, is building his dream.
How did I find him? Last week, he commented on a post in NXT ANIMAL Instagram. The post was about the philosophy of “building in public.” He wrote: “Been live coding on Twitch for over a year now. :) Building in public is fun as hell.”
I asked him for a short interview, and we got together. Here is his story:
During college, he started interning for big tech companies in New York, such as Microsoft and Facebook. His dream was to get into the gaming industry, but he realized these tech companies' lifestyles were NOT for him. He started a company with two other cofounders, but eventually became depressed and unproductive, as having cofounders made him feel like he didn't have control of his own life anymore.
Then the pandemic gave him a ticket to run away.
Dan went to Thailand and started a nomadic life in the hope of finding his magical idea. He started coding 8–10 hours a day and streaming whatever he was doing on Twitch. After a couple of months, he had gathered 3500 passionate fans who loved to watch him coding and failing in front of their eyes!
Building in public helped him to continue his not-NORMAL lifestyle in two ways:
A. To get support and care
A nomadic lifestyle is very dreamy-looking from the outside, but as Dan explains, it has its own dark side:
My life has been a constant ping-pong between feeling amazing and feeling absolutely awful. It’s not a really stable life, and that’s why some of my other nomad friends have started going to therapy. But streaming my life feels like I’m not alone, and I have some cool co-workers.
B. The cash flow
He makes almost $1200 to $1500 a month from Twitch and donations, which is enough to live in Thailand, where a good milkshake is only $1 and renting a small studio is about $400 a month. It also means he can continue testing his apps and ideas, as long as he is sharing his process and stories with his fans.
Creators are new startups
You don't need a traditional business model or a team and proper resources to start your digital journey. Creators are changing the game of running and managing a business or company.
A business to them is an ongoing project and an ongoing experiment. They're changing the perception of what a sustainable company/project looks like in the digital era.
What we can learn from them is:
Start to see your personal story as an important part of your brand or biz. Follow founders and creators who have a strong personal brand and try to decode how it helps their business.
Fund it yourself. Don’t look for outside support. As founders of Paynter Jacket Co say: “Save for it. You probably need less to start than you might think. We started Paynter by both putting in £5,000 that we’d saved over years working at other jobs. It means you don’t owe anyone anything and have total control of what you’re building.”
Start early. Start while you have no complete and perfect idea yet. Get going first, and then learn to become a pro!
Building in public will bring you the support and care that you need, especially at the beginning. Start sharing your behind-the-scenes with strangers! (What do you mean, on which platform? The one that you feel most comfortable with!).
Know that you are supposed to start small and stay small. Staying small is The Way for even the most successful creators. James Clear says: “Run lean. Keep your team as small as possible. Stay small, even if you can afford to become bigger.”
In the end, I’d like to mention that not every artist or creative dreams about running their own biz. Yes, you are special, my friend!
Every week, I send out a brief and practical newsletter to hundreds of new wave creatives, founders, and creators all over the globe. Join us!