The majority of people won’t bat an eyelash when it comes to taking on considerable student loan debt. But what if I told you that you could find your passion and build a profitable business for under $70?
A college degree is supposed to help you make a return on your investment, yet the average student will incur $30,867* in student loan debt. The standard repayment plan for student loan debt is 10-years, but research has shown the average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years* to pay off his or her loans.
Despite the stats about student loan debt, I’d go out on a limb and wager that the majority of students who take on that average $30,000 in debt believe the education received in college was not worth the time, effort, and money. If we’re talking specifically about a return on investment (ROI), the stats don’t lie: spending $30,000 only to pay it back in 21 years is a pretty raw deal. Even worse than the ROI, most people hate their jobs and live paycheck to paycheck.
I don’t believe college is the right option. In fact, I think it’s actually an irresponsible financial decision given the statistics staring us all in the face.
Regardless of my stance on higher education, by following the steps I’m about to share, I’m extremely confident that you can find your passion and start running a profitable business of your own. You will be able to arm yourself with all the knowledge you need to get going and for the meager investment of just $64.08.
And yes, you read that correctly: For just $64.08 I want to show you how to gain all the knowledge you’ll need to start doing work that matters (to you and others). And no, none of that money will end up in my pocket.
Now, let’s dive into how to find your passion, build a profitable business you enjoy working on, and learning how to make your customers love you.
Step #1, Find Your Passion: Read Pamela Slim’s Body of Work ($12.73)
This is where you start. If you don’t know what your values are, what you want in life, no amount of money or success in business is going to make you happy. I’ve been there and so have countless others.
Pamela Slim is a wonderfully smart human and has written an actionable guide to discover exactly what it is you are passionate about. Does that mean you’re going to build a business based on your passion? Probably not. But it will help you define a clear set of values with which you can build a business around so that every decision you make pushes you toward actually enjoying the work you do.
Your values will change. Your passions will change. Your purpose will change. This book will help you start to identify all of those things, and just as important will help you identify things you aren’t passionate about and don’t want to be doing.
Step #2, Build A Profitable Business: Read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup ($14.96)
Business is not being done the way it’s being taught in the majority of colleges right now and the word “iteration” barely exists in corporate America. If you want to build a business in the digital age we currently live in, this book is required reading.
Eric Ries gives you a framework for understanding how to start and operate a business. He walks you through the principles of using “lean” methodology to avoid spending a lot of time and money on your ideas. He introduces you to the term “minimum viable product” (MVP) which is a critical business concept.
I read this book after building multiple businesses and wish I would have read it at the very beginning.
The Lean Startup reframes your thinking and helps you truly understand what it means to own and run a startup.
Step #3, Create Insanely Happy Customers: Read Kathy Sierra’s Badass: Making Users Awesome ($23.47)
If your business is going to have customers, which every business does, this book will change the way you think about serving the people who spend money on your product or service.
When you help your customers succeed, you will succeed.
Kathy Sierra is a brilliant woman who has written a no-fluff book that breaks down exactly how you should be talking to your customers and presenting what you sell to them. She includes some eye-opening examples of how to shift the way you think about interacting with your customers, especially how you educate them and help them succeed with whatever their goals are.
The advice in this book is timeless. You should always want to make your customers badass and if your products don’t do that, the likelihood of you building a business that will last is very slim.
Step #4: Read Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rework ($12.92)
Rework is the perfect book to wrap everything together in a nice bow. It’s full of real-talk about running a business and free of “chase your dreams” propaganda.
Running a business takes work. Running a business takes messing up and learning from your mistakes. Running a business does not take an executive summary and a business plan anymore.
You don’t have to work 8 hours per day (9-5). You don’t have to have years of experience. This book is an excellent practical guide to stop thinking about building a business and to actually start building a business today.
Additional free resource to Rework: David Heinemeier Hansson, one of the authors of Rework, wrote a fantastic article to back up my points about passion and money.
Even if you’re well past college, these books will help you!
I wrote this article for a prospective college student, but I know the bulk of people who might find it is like me. You’ve already gone to college and you’ve either racked up debt or feel like you wasted a few good years of your life.
There’s no acceptance process to reading great books. You don’t have to apply to learn from people who’ve been where you want to go.
Whether you’re a 13-year-old aspiring entrepreneur, or you’re currently in college, or you’ve been to college and incurred student loan debt, you can do this.
If you’re scoffing at the idea that reading four books can help you build a business you’ll truly love and make you successful, I challenge you to put it to the test. Read these books. Invest the $64. Implement the practical lessons in them. Invest time and effort.
No one article, book, or piece of advice is going to answer all your questions. Consume the right knowledge for what you’re seeking in life, and enjoy the journey along the way.