How Not To Start A Business

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You know you’ve thought of it, whether it be that crazy new bar idea with your buddies, an app that will change the world, or perhaps even a blanket with sleeves. Once the feeling takes you over, it’s impossible to shake: You want to start a business.

Who wouldn’t? If you haven’t noticed, we’ve collectively created an entire fucking subculture of the trials of postgrad life. Well, my cube-dwelling friend, I have some news for you. The good news is that it only takes an idea; the bad news is that an idea isn’t worth shit. But hey, keep your chin up. This is America, isn’t it? Creating corporate powerhouses is what we do best. Built on a foundation of innovation, this nation has long been regarded as a haven for individuals with the drive to go above and beyond. For centuries, we have led the world in this arena, but here’s the thing — it’s up to us to keep it going. I began this column to share some insight of the grit of starting your very own business, with hope you can learn from (and laugh at) my mistakes, share in my triumphs, and take control of your career.

So where does this all begin? We can get to that in a bit, but first, let’s talk about my first major fuck-up. In Fall 2010, I arrived, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, for my first year at Arizona State with fire in my heart and vigor in my loins. Originally from the Northeast, the transition to my new surroundings at Arizona State was quite the adjustment, and like many of you, I decided to rush. As any fraternity man will tell you, pledgeship was a defining time for me, an experience that I will always hold to the highest regard.

Around the same time, I was on the phone bullshitting with an old friend one day when we stumbled across our first business idea. To be honest, I’m not even sure what it was. It was probably dumb, but it doesn’t matter — it got the ball rolling. From there, the concept continued to develop until we ultimately decided our plan. We were going to build master-planned communities. Why? I wish I could ask myself the same question. Oh, and no — we also had zero concept of how any of that actually worked, so we were really off to a great start.

Over the next few months, we continued to work on this idea (again, not worth shit) when I thought of a brilliant plan: I was going to get my chapter’s billionaire alumnus to be my mentor. It worked. I was in awe. Regularly communicating with one of the world’s elite was a fairly new thing to me. The dude is so normal that it’s actually somewhat off-putting, but that didn’t matter to me. I was in. What could possibly go wrong now?

Well, it turns out a lot of things could. The plan was that my business partner and I would spend the summer developing a full business model around the company and he would advise accordingly. It worked out for the most part — I spent the entire summer researching nonstop and putting together a fucking gorgeous document. Unfortunately, as nice as it looked, it was completely void of any relevant content and my mentor wasn’t incredibly impressed. Fuck. On the bright side, he was at least nice enough to have his CFO let us down easily.

So there you have it: my first major fuck-up. But don’t feel too bad. The next day, we shifted our approach and came up with our first idea that would ultimately become a real business.

The journey of the entrepreneur can be one of great sacrifice, but also great triumph. Starting a business is a crucible, exhibiting the power to mold even the meekest of candidates into powerhouses if fully immersed. This combination of traits displayed by the entrepreneur over the course of his or her journey can be viewed as a defining showcase of values, representative of the sacrifice, triumph, and resiliency of the American spirit.

Image via Shutterstock

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Young Carnegie

After earning a degree from Arizona State, I briefly worked in the energy management sector before turning my sights towards the entrepreneurial world. As an independent marketing consultant, I focused on notions of corporate social responsibility and eco-strategy to enhance brand image and develop strong platforms for companies to grow upon. These are my stories.

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