Time to Pretend by MGMT

I really like the song, Time to Pretend, by MGMT. It has an interesting sound and a playful beat, but when I read the lyrics online, I was a little disappointed in the content. When I heard the lyrics in my head, they sounded much different – so I decided to re-write some of it to be more optimistic, but still keep the same tone:

I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the prime of my life.
Let’s make a startup, make some money, have the time of our lives.
We’ll write some code up, get some funding, and dance with the stars.
We’ll make the software, and the website, and drive elegant cars.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.
Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute?

But there’s really nothing, nothing we can do
Love can’t be forgotten, life can be the start up of you.

The original lyrics are tainted with drug abuse and divorce while longing for a time when they used to spend time digging for worms in the sandbox at home. I remember picking cedar berries out of my friend’s sandbox, making highways, and rivers. It was a time to create with little fear of failing. The older you get, the harder life gets so why not fail early, fail often?

I can see why MGMT may want to live recklessly and die young. It’s a cop out to the life intended for us. Life is hard, there is no doubt. But within those constraints, there is fun. Life can be a game that can be beaten. The fear in each of us is the fear of losing – so don’t lose. Choose to win. The only ones way to lose is to stop trying to win. So choose to win.

How I Made it as an Entrepreneur

I got this email from an old friend today and wanted to post my reply to him:

So how are things at Watershawl these days? You still able to make a living off of it all? I’m pretty anxious to hear all about what you’ve got going on these days. It seems like you’ve been away for a while now… it was sink or swim time and you swam!

I’ve got that itch again. You know the one where I want to make money my way. I won’t lie they really take care of me there, and I’m learning tons every single day, but I’m starting to read blogs about making money from home and what not again. And it reminded me that I haven’t checked in with you for a while on where you’re at.

Take Care,

Jake

My experience at Watershawl can best be described by the attached picture, but yes, I’m able to make a living off of it. The issues I have are not unique to my business though and that’s cash-flow (you know, the stuff the Cash Management guys talk about all the time). What that means is that although I make enough over time, it doesn’t always come in at the same rate I need it to go out for bills. In other words, it averages out alright, but isn’t always timed right. For example, this month I’m scheduled to make a $400 profit over my bills (something that never hardly happened when I had a normal job), but right now I don’t have anything. It’s like that pretty much every month and that’s because I didn’t have a savings account (and still don’t).

I don’t think the itch to leave will ever really go away (unless you die inside), but there are ways to test the waters before you jump in. First of all, start thinking of your job as your biggest client and try to stop ‘expecting’ a paycheck and start trying to ‘earn’ a paycheck. This will put you in the mindset you’ll need when dealing with clients outside of a employee relationship. When I left I had 1 boss, but now I have over 20 (the number of current clients). My time is not my own. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. I have to work for them just like I had to work for my old job. The difference is that if I work more, I get more (and I can charge more). I also get to sleep in and do whatever I want. 🙂

My recommendation to you would be to take advantage of where you’re at and LISTEN to what people are saying. What I mean by this is if you can start to hear what people’s problems are, stuff they complain about, and/or what their pain points are, that’s the beginning of discovering a product, service, or business that you could start in order to solve that need. You’re in a better position in some ways than I am for finding out that information. I would love to find out what problems commercial loan officers have or what problems their clients have. If you can find a problem that you can solve + a customer that is both willing and able to pay for that solution, you have a business idea.

The key is to iterate your business idea until you have what’s called a product/market fit. Eric Ries talks about this in his book, Lean Startups, but you can also read Steve Blank‘s work on it. They’ve worked together so they have similar ideas. But basically, the premise is to 1) discover a problem 2) hypothesize a solution 3) interview potential customers about the solution 4) refine the solution. Once you get to a product that the customer would be MAD at you if you took away from them, you have a product/market fit and then you get funding and build like crazy. There are other subtle variations (like starting with a product instead of a customer), but being customer-centric in everything you do will pay dividends.

One idea that I don’t mind sharing with you is a “LED light bulb replacement service” where you go to a company like a bank and say, “I’d like to save you 40% off your lighting bill and would be happy to show you how it works by converting one of your branches to LED lighting at cost – if you like it, we’ll do the rest of your branches too, if not, we’ll go on our way and thank you for your time.” Essentially, you’re going in, finding out how many bulbs they have, estimating the cost upfront and the cost savings, and then swapping them out in one day. You can even do a buy-back on existing fluorescent light bulbs that you can either trash or sell to someone else.

A typical day for me is waking up around 8, checking my email for emergency work, working on some projects for customers (usually web edits), reading up on subjects in my field, visit a customer at their location or at a restaurant for a meeting, attend a networking meeting or meetup at night, and then in bed by midnight. I recently joined a networking group called BNI and am active on Meetup.com. I run my own group called Indianapolis Marketing and attend several others as well as Tech Point meetings, which are put on by a partnership with the State of Indiana. I use blogging to content market online, but that’s less successful than in-person networking for me. I’d be interested in hearing what you’re working on at work or in your ‘spare time’.

10 Entrepreneur and Startup Board Games

As an entrepreneur who is interested in startups and board games, I considered making my own entrepreneurship board game or a board game about starting up, but like any good business owner, I started with market research. It turns out there are already at least ten entrepreneur or startup board games either on the market already or in development. Some of them you may have heard of and others are brand new.

Startup Fever by Louis Perrochon

Set in the world of Internet startups, the pieces are employees – from engineers to salesmen to executives. Opponents try to steal them with better offers. As head of the company, you can choose to invest your resources in personnel or sales. There’s even an expansion that introduces venture capitalists and lawyers, for extra flavor. The goal, as in real-world product development, is to get the most users.

ScrumBrawl by VicTim Games LLC (Bugher and Vic Moyer)

The object of ScrumBrawl is to score three goals by moving orb tokens into a portal. To do so, players control fantasy creatures – 50 in all – whose characteristics determine how they interact. Players also battle each other’s creatures to keep them from scoring. At one point, the game was much more elaborate than its final version, but play testers told VicTim Games that the concept was too unwieldy.

Fluke by Ida Byrd-Hill, Detroit, MI

A Detroit mother has developed a board game that takes players from accidental inventions through the tricky realm of patents, portfolios and finally to corporate wealth – if they’re savvy enough. The player with the largest portfolio wins.

GoVenture Entrepreneur Board Game by GoVenture

Run your own business and compete, collaborate, and negotiate with other players. Game play is designed to recreate the real-life thrills and challenges of entrepreneurship in a fun and educational social learning experience. Activities are expertly designed to enable you to experience the true challenges of entrepreneurship, while at the same time, provide an engaging and experiential group learning opportunity.

Zeros-To-Heros by Richard Mak

Marketed as the “World’s 1st board game on Entrepreneurship” Zeros-To-Heros is the winner of MENSA Singapore SELECT Awards (2007) based on its originality, dynamic game play, ability to stimulate players’ intellect and fun. You start the game as an employee with ZERO capital and ZERO understanding of business. Take the exciting path to become your OWN BOSS and see whether you survive or become an entrepreneurial Hero.

Hot Company® Board Game

Students experience what it’s like to “be the boss” while experiencing the thrill of running a company and finding solutions that will lead to success. Each player or team is the “owner” of a hot new company. Roll the die, pick a card, and you’re in business! The object of the game is to get “your” company to turn a profit. Hot Company® develops a wide array of real-world business skills.

I’m The Boss!®

A game of deal-making and negotiation, where students are investors just trying to make a deal. Through intelligent negotiations, temporary alliances, and cut-throat bargaining, players can rake in millions. But watch out for the other investors at your bargaining table who meddle in your affairs and try to take over your deals. As the boss, you stand to gain the most, but you can find yourself quickly cut out of a deal. In the end, the winner is the investor with the most money.

Rich Dad Cashflow for Kids

CASHFLOW for Kids teaches children how to have money work for them. CASHFLOW for Kids is a complete educational package which includes the book “Rich Dad’s Guide to Raising Your Child’s Financial I.Q.” CASHFLOW for Kids is recommended for children ages 6 and older. Children learn the difference between good credit and bad credit, assets and liabilities, earned income and passive income, and income and expenses. Cashflow for Kids is an easy way for parents to teach their children about finance, but it requires an adult or older child who already understands the basics of finance to reinforce the lessons as they are experienced.

Entrepreneur’s Accessory to Monopoly by The Third Dimension

This game, subtitled “The Power-Business Venture Game”, is an unofficial expansion to Monopoly. It comes with a small board that fits exactly into the center of a standard Monopoly game board. The game plays like regular Monopoly but adds Corporations, Leverage Buyouts, Corporate Takeovers, Casinos and Financial Coups into the mix. Look for it on eBay, but Monopoly itself is a good economic game.

Globalization by Sandstorm

Build your global empire… one company at a time! As the head of a multi-national corporation with one goal in mind – to make money – players in Globalization attempt to outbid their competitors to acquire businesses within six different industries and grow their conglomerate. Streamline operating costs build additional factories sue your competitors or take one of your subsidiaries public for big returns! Your corporate strategy will impact which companies you buy and how to take your corporation worldwide. The first to reach a billion in net worth wins!

Want more learning sets for kids?