What are the necessary steps to becoming an entrepreneur?
Ben Sturgill explains that the process isn’t as complicated as you may think. In this article, he’s sharing the story of his first encounter with entrepreneurship and lessons you can apply in your own life.
Do you remember something you really wanted as a kid?
I mean something you needed?
Every entrepreneurial journey starts with a want or a need. You might want more time to spend with your wife and family, the flexibility to work from home or travel the world, or even just a bigger paycheck—that you cut for yourself—and all the good stuff that comes with it.
Though we have different drives, the steps to becoming an entrepreneur are pretty much the same for all of us. They require a great deal of courage and stick-to-itiveness. But, fundamentally, we all have the power to see them through.
That’s a lesson I learned firsthand at the tender age of 10. And that brings me back to my original question:
So, what was it?
Was it a bike? A dog? A Red-Rider BB gun?
For me, it was a baseball bat.
How An Easton Baseball Bat Taught Me Entrepreneurship
I was 10 years old, I had just graduated to little league, and I NEEDED this beautiful Easton bat. I had to have it if my progress to the pros was going to continue.
My parents couldn’t afford a $90 bat (big money in the early ’90s). They were both teachers. Even at 10, I knew money was tight.
I made three dollars a week in allowance. Christmas had just passed and my birthday wasn’t till the fall. Short of breaking the law, my options were limited. It felt horrible to be so powerless. What would this mean for my MLB career? I feared the worse.
That was until our little league coach told us we could all sell raffle tickets to raise money for the program. For just $1, buyers could win half the pot and get a 2-for-1 sandwich special at McDonald’s. WHAT A DEAL. But the best part, we got $0.50 of every ticket sold to buy WHATEVER we wanted at the local sporting goods store.
This was clearly my chance. I had to sell 180 tickets and I was scared. I had never sold anything before. But when everyone else got 50 tickets (the standard), I asked for 200 (to which the whole team responded, “Ooooooooh”).
So, every day for a week, I made the rounds in my neighborhood trying to sell these tickets. And, without knowing it, this little loop walked me through the most fundamental steps to becoming an entrepreneur.
The 3 Fundamental Steps To Becoming An Entrepreneur
1. Recognizing Your Want
Believe it or not, my journey to become an entrepreneur started the moment I set my sights on that $90 Easton Baseball Bat. Or, more accurately, it started the moment I decided I was going to play in the Majors.
Every great accomplishment was born out of a need or deep desire. That includes businesses from Coke-a-Cola (which started as a medicinal beverage) to that hardware store down the street.
And as our founder, Dale Partridge says, the most successful entrepreneurs are scratching their own itches. That’s because if your business is addressing your own pain point, the solution you’re offering your customers is going to be thorough and effective.
Moreover, you’re going to know how to market to them perfectly.
But the real reason that every real entrepreneurial journey starts with a burning desire is because that’s the only thing strong enough to motivate us through the obstacles, fears, and doubts we inevitably face.
That brings us to the second step of the entrepreneurial process, when the going gets tough…
2. Facing Down Your Fears
Asking my coach for 200 tickets was a nerve-wracking experience. And the rest of my team didn’t make it any better with their extra-skeptical “Ooooooooh!”
I learned pretty quickly that getting my bat was going to be a continuously uncomfortable process. Asking strangers for money, it turns out, is as unpleasant for a ten-year-old as it is an adult.
I had little success at first when I started sheepishly ringing doorbells. I endured a number of truly upsetting encounters. One particularly unpleasant man blew cigar smoke in my face as he told me to get the hell off his property.
But, as my raffle tickets slowly disappeared, so did my nerves. Those once-menacing doorbells began to less like landmines and more like opportunities.
Most kids don’t want to step outside their comfort zones. Adults are even worse. Most people are happy to have a “safe” job and a steady paycheck, working to make someone else rich.
Safety is important but it’s also limiting. To get the things we really want—and become the people we’re meant to be—we have to overcome our fears. That’s the second stage of becoming an entrepreneur.
This is the part of the process that hurts. When every step of your path is a question mark, you can’t help but feel intimidated. But as you spend more time with your fears, they lose their power.
That’s when you start to grow.
3. The Reward Of Figuring It Out
I didn’t have much success on my first couple of sales runs. So, after I had choked down my nerves, I tried something new.
First, I wore my whole uniform around the block. I felt a little goofy, but I’d already tasted enough rejection to know how to swallow my pride.
I was blown away by the reaction. It turned out that grown-ups don’t care much for raffle tickets, but they adore kids in baseball uniforms. My stash of quarters and dollar bills started to get heavy.
Next, I brought a hand drawn picture of the bat I wanted. That really melted the neighborhood hearts. The process became more interesting as I field-tested my ideas and watched them work. Then it became downright exciting.
Finally, I made a list of every house that didn’t answer the door and went back with my uniform and picture.
By the end of the week. I had sold almost 400 tickets.
The Real Reward? Understanding the Entrepreneurial Process.
When young Ben Sturgill set out on his Ohio sidewalk those many years ago, a roll of raffle tickets in hand, he had only one goal: to get his hands on the most glorious baseball bat you’ve ever seen.
I did love that bat (and the new glove and cleats I bought along with it), but that was a small reward compared with the lessons I learned. What I really gained was a knowledge of the steps to becoming an entrepreneur.
It starts with a deep need—whether that’s time, money, or personal.
It requires us to face our fears head-on. To swallow our doubts and knock on the door.
Then, as we get more comfortable knocking on those doors (and having grumpy old men shout at us), it teaches us how to solve problems through curiosity, not fear or need. That’s when we really start to have fun, get creative, and bring more of ourselves into the process.
If A 10-Year-Old Can Do It, So Can You.
The process I went through as a ten-year-old is the same for every entrepreneur.
The first steps are often the hardest. We have been taught our whole lives to fear failure. That we’re the happiest standing in line, even when we know it’s not true. In the beginning, entrepreneurship involves as much unlearning as it does learning.
What surprises me most, looking back, is how fast it all happened.
One minute I was a powerless little kid. I remember feeling stuck and hopeless.
The next, I was a legitimate problem-solver. Even at ten, I knew I could get what I want.
Of course, I didn’t get there all on my own. A lot of my most brilliant ideas actually belonged to my mom (thanks mom!). That’s another important lesson here: you can’t get there all on your own.
That’s exactly why we created StartupCamp. We wanted to provide you with the easiest and fastest way to start a successful business through tools, communities, and free resources (like this blog).
If you’re ready to take the first step on your entrepreneurial journey—if there’s something you truly desire—check out our new free eCommerce course, Amazon Impact. If you want to start a business that you can run remotely in your spare time, this course is for you.
I promise you, the steps to becoming an entrepreneur are not as mystifying as you might think. And the rewards will blow away your expectations.