Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 486 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week. We have a great question today from Glenn on behalf of his son.
Before we get to that, I do want to thank today's sponsor which is Lynda.com. This is an amazing online platform with over 3,000 on demand video courses. These aren't just little homemade YouTube videos. These are studio quality training tutorials to help you from all kinds of things from how to use different kinds of software. I've used that for … I've used Lynda for all kinds of software training, but also how to run your business, how to do business taxes, and growth hacking fundamentals and all those sorts of things. Go ahead and check it out. You can try it for free for 10 days and get full access to their entire library. Just go there. You'll see something that's going to help you no matter what part of business or what stage in your business you're at. Head on over to Lynda.com/askpat. Again that's Lynda.com/askpat.
Here's today's question from Glenn.
Glenn: Hey Pat. This is Glenn. Thank you for everything that you do. I have a question for you. My son Eric is 16 years old, and he wants to create an online business. I know there's a lot of different things that he could do, but where should he start? If you could give him some words of wisdom and some practical tips on where to start, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Glenn, what's up? Thank you so much for the question, and Eric, you're awesome. Thank you for being interested in business. I wish I was interested in business when I was 16, too. When I was 16, the closest thing to being interested in a business was literally just having a business card, because for whatever reason everybody in our school just wanted a business card. I mean that sounds ridiculous, but for whatever reason there was this trend that everybody started to print these professional-looking business cards with their name on it and some of their talents or whatever group they were in. It was so silly when I think about it because we didn't have a business, so it wasn't a business card at all.
I think this is a pretty important lesson to understand, so for Eric, any other kids out there and anybody really, a business isn't just the fact that you have a business card—meaning in today's world, it's not just the fact that you have a website. It's not just the fact that you've got a logo created. I wouldn't even worry about those things until you actually have something that provides some kind of solution to somebody else, because really that's all a business is. Entrepreneurship is problem solving. A business is a problem solving opportunity for you to really solve a pain point that somebody else has.
What I would start with is Eric, just trying to figure out what it is that somebody out there in the world needs that you could provide, and what is your super power. I think that's another important thing to understand is what is your unfair advantage? That's something we call and we talk about a lot here on the show is your unfair advantage. What is your super power? That thing that you can offer that nobody else has or that thing that makes you special and weird that you can incorporate into your business, whatever that business might be.
You got to know what that is. Those are really important to know what your strengths are so that you can really focus on those as you build your business moving forward. Now, in addition to that, you probably have a lot of things that you could do like your father was saying. One of the hardest things to do is to focus on one thing at a time. I know, and this isn't just anything just kids do. This is something all entrepreneurs do of all ages. We expend our energy through multiple projects at the same time.
When you do that, you get nothing done. If everything gets worked on, nothing gets done. You need to work on that one specific thing, that one thing that you're going to follow through on. Focus, F-O-C-U-S. Follow one course until success. These are all mindset things that we're talking about. These aren't specific strategies or tactics right now, but the mind is really what's going to make it work or not. Just training yourself to understand that you're going to have to go through failures. You're going to make mistakes, but that's a part of the process.
I'm not a teenager anymore, but when I was a teenager I thought failing was the worst thing in the world. I would come home from school, and I'd get a 96% on my test. I'd be asked well what happened to the other four. That's just not the right way to think about things today. If you want to build a business, you have to iterate. You have to fail. You have to pivot. You have to put something out there into the world and see what happens.
Now, of course, you want to do that with some research behind it. So you want to go and discover these pains and problems that other people and other groups or other markets are having. You pick one particular market and you talk to them. You figure out. You kind of extract these ideas based off of conversations. What's something that you do every day that you hate, or what's something that makes you just cringe in your work space? What's something that you wish was more convenient?
Once you start digging deep asking those questions of people, you're going to find these business ideas come out. That way you're not just building something and then shouting from the rooftops, “hey guys look at my thing.” You are building something that you know based off of conversations that people need. That's another thing that a lot of people have to get over is the fact that once you have and idea, you need to talk about it with other people. Have them poke holes in that idea and shape it and mold it into something that actually makes sense for them because when you build a business, it's not for you. It's for everybody else who you are serving.
This is the most important thing. That is your earnings, how much money you make is a byproduct of how well you serve that audience. Your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve that audience. There's a lot of things that comes with serving that audience. That's first of all understanding who that audience is. We talked a little bit about that through the research and the conversations you need to have to figure out what those pain problems are. Then also just making sure to always put them first because they are the ones who are going to help pay the bills. They are the ones who are going to help you generate an income. It's all about your audience.
Now, you can test and iterate, and a great book along those lines is The Lean Startup. I'm also writing a book, actually have written a book, and it's in the editor's hands at the time that I record this. I'm going to get it back and reshape it and make it great for everybody out there. It's going to be available early next year at some point for all of you, which essentially talks about how to make sure that idea that you have in your brain is one that's going to work out. Not just one that works out in the marketplace that you're entering, but also one that works out for you.
Is this an actual business that supports the lifestyle or the kind of work that you'd like to do? I know that's a lot of mindset stuff Glenn and Eric, but I hope that gives you a good starting point. At least go out there. Put yourself out there. It's going to be a little uncomfortable, and I know myself if I was 16 and I was told you got to go to a small business down the road and actually talk to those people. You got to go to people at this convention and actually just have a conversation with them or have coffee or tea or whatever teenagers have these days for beverages, and chat and just discover what is the problem that you could solve. If I was told to do that when I was 16, I would shrivel up and just go in a corner somewhere because I was just too shy.
If I could go back into time and tell myself one thing, that would be you can't be shy if you want to be successful. You could be a shy person and an introvert. That's totally cool, but if you want to help other people, you have to put yourself out there. You have to talk to people. You have to really do that with the fact that your target is to figure out what that pain point is that you could solve, and combine that with your super powers and just hustling to make sure that you get this done. Great things can happen.
Of course, like I said, you will fail. You will struggle, and that's part of the process. That's what makes entrepreneurship great. You are taking control. You're not letting anybody else help you figure this out. I mean maybe a little bit, and it's good to get advice and ask for help. I think that's really important, and I'm so thankful that your father came on to ask a question. I think it's important to do that, but what I mean is you are not letting your life be in control by somebody else like it was for me before I got laid off.
Now I started down the journey of doing everything I was supposed to do, 4.2 student in high school. 4.0 average in college. Got my dream job, and that was great. That's what I thought I wanted to do, but it wasn't until I got let go that I discovered this world where I can control my own destiny that things really opened up for me. My eyes opened up to the opportunities out there, and pretty cool that you're only 16 and doing that Eric.
Keep going. Keep focusing on solving those problems, and I wish you all the best. Keep up the good work, and Glenn, great job. Love it. Thank you both so much for asking this question today, and I'm going to see if we can send you both a t-shirt so Glenn and Eric, we'll have my assistant Jessica send one to both of you. Thank you again, and for everybody else out there who has a question, if you'd like to potentially be featured here on the show, just head on over to askpat.com. You can ask right there on that page. Thank you so much. I appreciate it, and happy December. You're going to hear much more about my book coming up. I just want to thank you all for the support. Appreciate it. Love you guys. Take care, and here's a quote to finish out the day by Bill Gates. He said, “It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Take care guys. Thanks. Bye.