How to Risk Genius When You’re Down And Out

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Last week, I wrote about an experience I had with Bob Taylor that reminded me of the importance of diving in and making more bad stuff in the name of figuring out how to make good stuff faster.

A lot of heads nodded along in the comments, then TomC chimed in with a comment that you could just tell was driven by a lot of pain and spoke to a very real dilemma. For ease of reading, here it is again:

“Tough to make mistakes when they cost money to make. I, at times, am petrified into complete inaction because I know that the $10 or $20 or $500 is money I cannot afford to lose. Right now, I am trying to buy a domain name. Simple right? Well, first there is the $10 for the name and then the hosting and then the time to create the site and then the time to promote the sight and try to get a top ranking… but what if the name that I choose isn’t the right name? And this applies to a lot of stuff… like what if the copy I write is wrong for this product? Do I still order the brochures… or booklets.

When you don’t have a dime, making mistakes can completely crush you. Then you have to somehow pick yourself up and do it again. It’s a panic attack waiting to happen, all because the $100 you spent on something means that now you have a late payment fee on your credit card which bumped you over your limit… now the mistake has cost you $70 in fees plus the $100 a week of lost work and NO income… and now your wife is furious because you keep trying.

If you can afford to make them, make them… if you can’t afford to make them… What? Wait until you can? Or make them anyway and be prepared for the consequences?

I have the same trouble with self help gurus telling me that the most successful people make fast decisions… I assume that leads to a lot of mistakes. I can’t afford to make fast decisions either… and then the self help guru says coyly… “You can’t afford NOT to fast decisions”. Ughhh

Perhaps writing this was a mistake.”

He brings up a great question. It’s a whole lot easier to take risks, spend time and money needed to get to a place where you’ve figured out how to create amazing things when you’ve got the time and money to spend.

But what if you don’t?

What if every hour spent chancing failure is an hour you currently need to earn the money to pay your rent and keep your family intact? Then what?

In the self-help world, it’s become vogue to offer some variation of “you can’t afford not to do this, so dive in and let the chips fall where they need to.” That’ a pretty tough pill to swallow. I agree, there is a certain amount of irrational catastrophizing that can ride along with the process of risking action and failure. And that needs to be dealt with. In fact, I speak to much of it in my 2010 TEDx talk and my next book.

But there are also a lot of practical “on the ground” alternative ways to pursue a craft, goal or process that can make it more humane.

Let’s start with a bit of a reframe. First, making bad stuff is not the same thing as making mistakes. Nobody sets out to make anything poorly, we all strive to hit homeruns on the first try. But in the learning stages, it rarely works that way.

With rare exception, you’ve got to make a bunch of bad stuff in order to build the knowledge and skills to have the ability to make good stuff. So, it’s important to reframe making bad stuff not as a foolish, high-risk pursuit, but rather a necessary part of any quest to position yourself with enough skills and mastery to generate enough joy and/or money to consistently have your effort return way more than your investment.

When you start from this place, it helps frame what you’re doing and why in a way that makes it a lot more palatable. Still, money and opportunity cost can be a huge issue.

So what else can you do?

1. Make more bad stuff on someone else’s dime – Many fields have some variety of either paid or unpaid internships. These can be great ways to start taking action under the guidance of someone with expertise who’s in a position to accelerate your journey and will essentially underwrite your bad stuff. Sometimes you’ll even get paid a bit of money while learning.

And if there are no paid or free internships available, see if you can create your own, find people whose wings you’d like to operate under and ask if you can help them in exchange for the opportunity to learn.

2. Make more “virtual” bad stuff – Instead of spending the money needed to go through the iterations needed to get good at something in real life, see if there’s a way to do a bunch of that either for little or no money online. Are there online tools, forums, training sites, videos, classes that would allow you to either learn your process or give you enough of a knowledge or skill foundation so that once you finally had to make the leap and spend a bit more time or money, you were in a position to start making good stuff a lot faster.

I test product and copy ideas all the time in social media, in the form of quotes, posts, surveys, questions or even sample copy. Or I create a smaller, more discrete group of digital compatriots that allow me to learn and test very quickly and for no money. That allows me to hone ideas, marketing and copy before I ever have to invest more time and money to make, sell or distribute an actual product. If learning without spending money is a priority, there are a lot of ways to do it (or spend very little) by tapping the online world.

3. Make more bad stuff as a group – Find a group of likeminded people who are interested in learning the same thing as you and form a group to share the burden and costs of the learning process.

4. Make someone else’s good stuff as a stopgap – Study someone else’d proven methodology as a tool to accelerate the path to a level of competence that will allow you to make good stuff more quickly, albeit via someone else’s process. Then once you’re enough in the black to be able to take more risks and make more bad stuff in the name of learning and creating on a deeper level, begin that process as phase 2 of the journey.

I’m sure there are many other ideas and approaches that can help relieve the burden of making the bad stuff needed to get to the good stuff. And I don’t mean to make light of the challenge of going through a learning process where there is some cost involved when you’re already having trouble making ends meet.

If there’s no way to avoid spending a bit of money and allocating the full monty of time needed to learn what you want to learn, then adopt a far more deliberate process that allows you to set aside what you need with the understanding that it will require a bunch of bad stuff to be created and it may take you months or years longer than someone else with more resources available to them.

And in the interim, do as much gratis learning online or through internship or even observation in an effort to get the most out of those moments when you finally do have to drop some time and money.

Curious, what do you think?

These are just a few ideas, but you guys are way smarter than I.

Have anything to share?

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32 responses

32 responses to “How to Risk Genius When You’re Down And Out”

  1. Well first, I totally acknowledge Bob Taylor for voicing his concerns and his pain. I didn’t get the impression he was playing victim but just as you said, he was in pain and trying to “figure this thing out.” It took a lot of courage to do it and I acknowledge him for it.

    Just the way you approached this Jonathan, really says a lot about your character and the compassion you feel for others (Not to mention of course the solutions are completely bad ass)

    Your response to Bob was a huge lesson in itself and I just wanted to acknowledge you both since this is such a critical place many people find themselves in.

    Kudo’s to you both.

  2. This is awesome, Jonathan. I love TomC’s comment and your suggestions are great workarounds. I started my site for all of $16, using as much free stuff as I could, like a free theme and GIMP for the logo, etc.

    And what I learned from doing that is that these creative/cheap/free workarounds might actually make you BETTER at making your stuff, because you’re learning how to do everything rather than relying on a plan or a widget or a guide or an e-course. They give you mad fundamentals, these creative experiments in free-hacking stuff you make.

    The other suggestion I’d have is to use bartering. Everybody has some kind of skill that’s valuable to others. Offer up that in exchange for something you’re not good at or are unwilling to do. It’s a choice to use money; to avoid it, we just have to find another person willing to exchange something else of value besides it.

    Thanks again, Jonathan. Awesome, inspiring post for bootstrappers.

  3. Srinivas Rao says:

    Jonathan,

    Lots of really interesting lessons here. I think it’s really interesting that you brought up making bad stuff as a group. The first paid product I launched was a mini product. It was an hour long teleclass on how to grow a blog with interviews. Rather than do it myself, I reached out to a fellow blogger and we partnered on it. Neither of us had launched anything before, so it was a great confidence booster. While it didn’t make a fortune, it generate about 200$ for an hours worth of work. I think that when you work with another person on something you mitigate risk in terms of time, resources, and money. I think some people make the mistake of investing a fortune early in the game. They put too much on the line. While there is definitely a correlation between risk and reward, I think you have to take intelligent risks and part of that mine mean thinking in terms of surviving rather than thriving. Really thought provoking post.

  4. Adam King says:

    What do you do when you can’t afford to risk failure?

    I used to wonder that very thing in frustration and, admittedly, a bit of anger. I found a long time ago that the question itself actually kept me from making massive progress.

    When every dime is already spoken for before it even hits your bank account, it’s going to seem impossible to even extend yourself a tiny bit to try or test something new. It’s scary as hell and used to leave me depressed at times.

    I made some life choices that did make it a little easier. I rented instead of bought a home, I lived with very little possessions (still do by choice), and remained single so there were no family considerations on my end. So, I know that what I’m going to lay out here won’t be as easy for married people to execute. I can only share my experience.

    I learned to start viewing risk as opportunity. So, the first thing I did was change my approach and outlook. Instead of fearing failure or taking risks, I looked at the whole thing as a chance to find a path and solution that enabled the little resources I had at my disposal.

    I calculated cost very very carefully, then allowed one hour of research to find free or open source alternatives to any software, programs, or tools needed. This is where social media became extremely valuable, btw.

    Then, I would assemble all I could for free, decide if I couldn’t move forward without a monetary investment, and if it was needed, I spent another hour with pen and paper brainstorming all possible and seemingly impossible ways to bring in that cash. I’d then shift focus to implement those ideas to bring in the extra money. The temptation will be to use this money for other needs, but don’t. This is where risk and faith meet to become positive action.

    Every time I needed to move forward, I would use this process to enable the test, creation, and/or failure/success of whatever I was pursuing. The real secret is to be willing to audit your time.

    What I mean is, if I needed to take on something I’d never done before and had to learn a new skill set to do it, I would allow a limited amount of time to get the info and practice. They key was making that time goal somewhat unreasonable. Like 2 hours instead of 6 to learn basic web design, etc.

    That way, you’re not just tossing precious hours at something, when your time is needed elsewhere with family or work.

    I can tell you from experience, (and Jonathan can vouch for me here), that I know exactly what it’s like to have seemingly nothing at your disposal to even risk anything, but the reality is, if you shift your perspective and create your own approach that leverages what resources you do have (some time, abilities, intelligence, creativity) you CAN get there.

    It may not be as fast as you want. It may not be as glamorous as you hoped. It may not be as lucrative as you need. But in the end, it’s the doing that actually creates more resources and abundance to keep going.

    Your brain needs the act of risk. It needs the exercises and lessons it receives from figuring out how to even start when there’s no apparent way of doing it. Because, as you move into this uncertainty you begin to learn more and more about what your personal formula for success really looks like.

    Then, eventually, you get to leave comments like this one.

  5. Thank you for addressing this issue head on. I’ve been very frustrated that so many ‘self-help gurus’ do not or will not. I understand why they don’t (mindset is everything), but it doesn’t help so many of us out there who are brilliant but dealing with no room to move. (As this man conveys so clearly above — I feel his pain, because I’m there in the trenches with him. Doesn’t mean we want to stay there, or need to.)

    I haven’t found the answer yet, however I will say that inspiration + support — encouragement — are everything. I realized that people often want to sympathize to help me, but that’s not what I want nor need. I want ENCOURAGEMENT, in the way of actions to take, and ways to RESPOND and not REACT to what life/the economy/my family is tossing my way. If I may offer:
    – I’m a brutal gatekeeper to my mind, only allowing in what I know will serve my Greater Purpose and what I have to offer.
    – Meditate: it relieves the stress in the body, and it calms the mind, helping to make those decisions we need to make. Even 5 minutes 3x a day. Do it in the bathroom.
    – Get enough sleep. (Simple? I’m very, very serious. Sleep helps the body repair, helps the mind soar — pay attention to your dreams, while you’re at it.)
    – Try and find your ‘tribe’ (this was my Achille’s heel, may it never be yours). People you respect, trust and who can offer encouragement and insight when you can’t do it for yourself. It makes those mistakes easier to bear.Hey, let’s start one! A group for people to cheer one another on as we create the New Economy. Because that’s what we’re doing.
    – Cultivate a positive mindset, and trusting yourself. Easy to say, hard to do when you’re struggling. As I well know. but it’s not impossible. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who was there in moments when you really shined in your life? On hard days, ask them to tell you the story again.

    Hmmm… off to meditate and write!
    All good things,
    Kimberely, spiritual + excellence instigator

  6. Props to TomC for asking this difficult question, and to Jonathan for taking the time to answer it thoroughly!

    In my opinion one of the least talked about and most important foundational elements is your money. If spending $10 on a domain name, realizing you need to change it, and spending $10 more is stretching you then money is a problem. The good news is fixing it is something anyone can do and will dramatically change the way you approach this whole situation. Start with Dave Ramsey. Check out Adam Baker at manvsdebt.com.

    Secondly, Darren Hardy and Jim Rohn say it best: when your WHY is big enough, you’ll find the HOW. Need some extra cash? Sell something. Mow some lawns. Whatever. Need to get something done but don’t have the tools? Try another way. There are countless examples of people who use the resources they have (not the ones people think they need) to do bootstrap something amazing. Check out Dan Miller at 48days.com for some great examples.

  7. Randy says:

    It comes down to CHOICE and patience over time.

    Example: this summer my 12-year old son wanted to buy a Wii. He started mowing lawns, weeding, and watering for people when they went on vacation. Two months later and he’s playing Madden 2011 in our living room.

    Everybody has something or can do something of value to others. Dave Ramsey is fond of telling people to deliver pizza at night. Sometimes it’s a pride thing…”I’m a 40 year old man, I’m not gonna mow lawns!” That’s your own belief system telling you something is beneath you. Nothing is beneath you if it is a means to your ends.

    Do you want it bad enough to sell some old stuff on eBay? Bad enough to donate plasma, or stock shelves at night? Bad enough to give up wasted time watching reruns of Lost?

    Hemingway wrote A Farewell To Arms in longhand. A notebook and some pencils cost about $2.00. There is always a workaround. I believe it was John Randolph Price who said, “If money is the problem, there is NO problem.”

  8. Shane says:

    Jonathan,

    I agree. I think we are driven towards doing “big” things since we hear that so often. But what we need to hear more are doing the “little” things with less risk that can lead up to the bigger things.

    In fact, just last week there was a great story about a guy on Google+ that really wanted to open a restaurant. But the costs and risks were way out of his reach so you know what he did? He started a weekly hangout right on G+ teaching cooking to people…and now he has national recognition for trying this out and it could lead to very big things for him.

    Certainty feels better and it works. But Uncertainty is a place we rarely explore because we feel we just dont’ have what it takes – – and sometimes what it takes is a simple idea and a few others with the same ideas to start a little spark.

  9. Mike Poynton says:

    Johnathan:

    Thanks for this post. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there. I’m launching a US-faced PR business on my own from a virtual office in Costa Rica and, though I’m committed and passionate, those traits will only take me so far. There are costs involved with branding yourself and your business and purchasing the tools needed to run it.

    Luckily, I have found people who believe in me and are supporting me in a number of ways: becoming clients, hooking me up with their networks, feeding me advice so I don’t make the same mistakes they did, giving me a push when it’s needed the most. At times these folks seem to believe in me more than I do in myself.

    I consider myself very fortunate to have these friends and family. My success depends on them as much as it does on the money.

  10. RuthJ says:

    Facing personal poverty: there are no easy answers to that. But to Jonathan’s list of times and ways to “make bad stuff” when you don’t have leisure time and cash, I’ll add:

    Do it for someone else, not yourself.

    If you want to learn to build a house, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. You don’t have to buy materials or fund a house, and you’ll form relationship ties that might help you in your own time of need. There aren’t volunteer opportunities for every skill or craft, of course, but there are for some.

    I’m phobic about websites and technology, and I didn’t want to learn the stuff to promote my own book, even if I must. But, afford it or not, done well or not, I’m jumping in head-first to help with a cause I care about, a cause that nobody but me will spearhead. I’m sure I’m doing it badly, because every move is new and I have no money to pay others to do it right. I listed the new blog, which should be .org not .com (and I’m waiting for someone to fix my mistake, since I can’t afford to pay and don’t know how), so that anyone who likes can see what early blunders look like.

    But if you care and you want to help, you can learn a lot and money doesn’t matter very much. This won’t help the original poster’s problem (and I too am very cash-poor), but it’s good to keep in mind.

    RuthJ

  11. RuthJ says:

    I thought the URL I put into the “website” line would show in the post, sorry. http://www.lifelinelegalfund.com….my learning experience page.

  12. Mary Jane says:

    I appreciate this post very much. Too many self-help gurus leave this part out, and it’s a big deal.

    For me,it’s all about working very hard to improve myself, my skills and abilities, and work with the internal blocks that keep me stuck. Facing my fear and putting myself out there, open to learning all that I can.

    Meditation is a huge help. Am also moving away from negative people and opening myself up to attracting my Right People.

    Unlike, Bob, my situation is not yet dire, but this economy is scary, and it is sobering to watch assets crumble into dust, assets I rely on.

  13. Rick Wolff says:

    It’s good to know someone is at least talking about this. I’ve been in this predicament for about 3 years now, and all the web know-it-alls, all well employed and comfy, have not thus far understood.

  14. […] ‘live.’ Raw. Sleepy. Barely caffeinated. It all started while I was reading a new post over at Jonathan Fields’ blog and it got me all fired […]

  15. This is a great follow up post and it raises an important point, what is the cost of not taking any risks?

    TomC defines risk as something which will put him in debt or worse.
    Does every risk or decision lead to money?

    How about taking risks in our relationships, by adopting a more loving approach to others instead of being so self involved?
    Maybe taking a risk with a new habit we try, be it running, walking, eating better.

    I believe that inaction is a risk. This doesn’t mean we should gamble all our savings in one venture but by the same token the act of living is in itself a risk. We can die any minute.

    Great post Jonathan, and I really enjoyed the down to earth points at the end.

  16. I’m a psychotherapist and it sounds like TomC is experiencing a great deal of anxiety. In order to make it in business or any area of life you need to be operating from a place that is calm, balanced and rational. Sadly many people do not have the psychological/emotional tools to run a successful business which is why 8/10 businessness fail within the first couple of years. Jonathan you offered great rational advice, but to those who are stuck in anxiety mode, I’m afraid they will generally only be able to envision worse case scenarios.
    My heart goes out to TomC and my advice to anyone wanting to start a business is to make sure they have both the business knowlegde and appropriate mindset for success.

  17. I think another challenge with “failing forward” or making bad stuff is not only the danger of losing money, but the reputation damage.

    Everyone knows the importance of a first impression. If you go out and say you’re just going to make bad stuff until it gets better, what do you think the first thing that potential future employers/business partners/customers are going to see?

    I’m not saying not to just keep trying and putting stuff out there, I just think that too many people these days figure they’ll put out anything and then get upset when it comes back to bite them in the future.

    Kevin

  18. […] original article: How to Risk Genius When You’re Down And Out This entry was posted in Paid Survey Taking, Survey Taking by Chad Morgan. Bookmark the […]

  19. Kristen says:

    I’m somewhat taken aback by the idea that self help gurus are encouraging people to make “fast decisions”, especially having just read this New York Times piece about decision fatigue and how even the best of us can make bad decisions if we’re rushing ourselves at the wrong times: http://tinyurl.com/4452mak

    That said, I know the feeling of letting the realities of the difficulty, and possible financial costs, of accomplishing something get in the way of productivity. There’s a certain momentum to letting the fear of what might go wrong or not work out for you keeping you from trying that builds the longer you let it plague your thoughts–I’ve been stuck there myself for the last few days and have daily been kicking myself for not finding a way out of it.

    I appreciate the tips from Kimberely above. I’m often amazed by how much tapping into the positivity of the online community can help provide a little pick up on bad days.

  20. Jen says:

    What a beautiful expression of what many of us feel/have felt, by TomC and Jonathan, your response and treatment of the real concern is much appreciated.

    I’ve been in TomCs shoes, on both ends, as my husband went back to school and we became a one income family, also as I worked toward my vision and needed to spend some cash to get there. (I’ve had online shops that required more $$ to create a product.) Not knowing TomC’s exact expertise, I’d lack to add to the mix to be where you are and with that consider: choice, priorities, connections, and patience.

    Choice:
    You/we have choices and that’s powerful.

    Many gurus suggest you jump in, quit your day job, and don’t look back. I got stressed over this and felt like a failure for a while. Experience taught me that having the income while things get moving is a blessing. Kid’s feet don’t care about your passion — they grow anyway. Bellies get hungry…I decided that anyone who is not contributing financially to my life, does not get to occupy sacred space in my mind around whether or not I’m doing my process correctly, even if I still respect their wisdom in other areas.

    I’m also not in to that “make quick decisions” perspective as a blanket way of living. Slow or quick, you can’t always predict the outcome, so why torture yourself regarding the speed with which you make decisions? Instead choose to trust that you are resilient and smart and can do what you need to do. In my experience, I’ve never regretted a decision I took time to make and I’ve recovered from any decision I made too fast or too slow. Choosing to trust myself is the bigger deal. It’s the lasting piece.

    Priorities:
    Beyond money, wife, time (especially time for eye contact and not obsessing over business — something I was bad at at one time) deserve real space on your calendar.

    Choosing what you’ll focus on from month to month (or whatever timeframe works for you) might help the wallet and your anxiety. Choosing to do the web stuff, then work on ranking, etc. It won’t all happen at once. In terms of name, there are not great names that are successful and great ones that no one knows about. I tend to think it’s bigger than that. You can change a name…it isn’t worth losing sleep over. If you’re working alone, maybe go with your own name for the .com and then name your product. If you’re not feeling that, write some ideas, solicit ideas from people you trust and see what speaks to you.

    Connections:
    An example of a mistake I made was following people I admire or might want what I have to offer and thinking that was connecting. Following them wasn’t a mistake, but even if there are just two people singing your praises, those are the ones with whom you can make deep connections, invite to try your product, and I have traded for testimonials and continue to do so as I build. Time to visit other people’s blogs and support their work and ideas (online and in real life) is also so important in making connections and taking your mind off your business. It’s basically giving back and giving is so important to keep the good energy flowing. (Check out Rollo May, The Courage to Create, taking your mind off may be the thing.)

    Patience:
    Another mistake I made was thinking that putting more cash into some just right appearance would speed up the process. Money in doesn’t equal audience response out. I also found that pouring money I didn’t have in (sometimes it was just $10) was a manifestation of other emotional stuff — fearing people wouldn’t take me seriously, fearing it wouldn’t work out and medicating that fear with money thrown in, a reaction to quiet moments or lack of activity…spending money creates a false sense of activity/something happening.

    My current blog isn’t particularly beautiful at this point, and it’s moving slower than I’d like, but the responses I get sometimes blow me away…I haven’t put in much money …more time, heart, and soul, and I’m beginning to see returns. I’m planning a move to a new web host and making it more visually appealing, but that will come in time.

    I tend to write such long responses! This is amazing stuff and really hit home for me. I hope for the best for us all and especially TomC who was so brave and authentic. Much appreciated!

  21. TomC’s (and many others’) pain is sad, but I admire his courage for expressing it. We’re all a work in progress.

    Success, however you choose to measure it, often stems from our creativity in finding ways to use whatever resources we’ve got, or finding ways to gather more resources vital to helping us make it happen. It needn’t involve debt or spending (ahem, “investing” some might say).

    It almost always involves just taking the closest step. Even so, everything is hard until it’s easy!

    Thanks TomC and thank you Jonathan.

  22. […] How to Risk Genius When You’re Down And Out […]

  23. Haider says:

    I believe the message of “making more bad stuff” is important, but it might not be relevant to everybody, given their circumstances.

    This seems to be the case with TomC.

    There are 2 sides to the problem he’s facing:

    1) Tight budget
    2) Worried spouse

    Having the space and freedom to make mistakes and experiment is insanely difficult when you don’t have enough money to spare and you wish to make your spouse feel at ease.

    The solution for TomC – where he is right now – might be to focus on creating an income, and then putting some of that money into side projects and experiments. That way he wouldn’t feel the pressure of having to make money from his experiments and his wife feel reassured that he’s doing something to put food on the table.

    Some artists choose to ignore those around them while they pursue their art, others work through their struggles and frustrations, and some choose to create a safe environment for them to work in, without forcing their loved ones to make sacrifices or live in fear.

    A lot of Renaissance artists were either wealthy or had wealthy sponsors, and so they didn’t have to worry about making ends meet.

    The best thing for TomC to do might be to harness his existing skills (and maybe to polish them slightly) to generate money right now, with the opportunities available to him, and to pursue a side business as though it was a hobby. No high expectations from him or his wife.

    Communication is key. He needs to explain to his wife that this project means a lot to him and – since he’s providing for the house – he wants some time and a small budget to work on his project.

    Best of luck to TomC and everyone pursuing a dream. 🙂

  24. Tim says:

    I’ve been dealing with this dilemma for the past few months.

    Trying to get anything off the ground without an income is difficult even for the biggest risk takers. Suggestions for free resources are great, but I think at the end of the day you have to make sure that you can support your creative process.

    You’d be better off taking a job and working in your spare time rather than trying to work through constant anxiety and stressing your relationships. There’s plenty of time in the day outside 9-5, and having the income problem solved gives you mental (and monetary) resources to apply towards your business.

  25. How beautifully and refreshingly honest Bob Taylor was. I love it when someone has the courage to voice concerns/fears that others are thinking but too afraid to say…awesome!

    I love the “make bad stuff” approach. I’m reminded of an essay Derek Sivers wrote. He was discussing a pottery class where the professor split the class into two groups. He told the first group that their only goal and grade for the class will be based on ONE pot…they need to make the absolute best pot they can make and they’ll be graded on its perfection. He told the second group that they’ll be graded on weight ONLY. If they make X pounds of pots they’ll get a B, Y pounds of pots they’ll make an A, etc.

    At the end of the semester all of the pots were lined up and graded/critiqued and those that were judged by weight ultimately had the “best” pots as well…imagine that! 🙂

  26. MK says:

    Very cool concept and discussion here.
    My take would be the person claiming it can not be afforded probably does not want it bad enough or would make it happen. Examples of how this could be done:
    1. Build relationships. If someone thinks your smart enough and have the passion they’ll invest a bit in you for a domain name/hosting or let you leverage their hosting.

    2. Make use of free tools. Jonathan already mentioned this but there is so much quality info out there you really can learn for free and avoid spending especially to start. Doing this groundwork helps demonstrate your in it for the long haul vs a get rich quicker that will find a new mine when the hard work comes.

    3. Use some free options like hubpages linked to adsense, free blog hosting that lets you share amazon/adsense revenue etc. Helps you learn and build the audience on the cheap if you truly have no budget.

    4. Write content for others and do some fiverr side jobs until you have the capital you need. Bootstrap it.

  27. I’d just add that even if you have some money to spare, that doesn’t guarantee successful “failing forward” either. After a while when you spend, spend, spend and still have nothing to show for, it’s just as frustrating when you realize how much money was wasted unnecessarily (some things can be learned without having to make mistakes). So, I’d agree with the points about spending wisely and seeking out the free routes where-ever possible. I know I’m going to cut back on trying to spend my way to success and start being smarter in my approach. Just my two cents…

  28. […] ‘live.’ Raw. Sleepy. Barely caffeinated. It all started while I was reading a new post over at Jonathan Fields’ blog and it got me all fired […]

  29. […] Fields asked a very important question recently concerning the idea of how you even attempt risk when your resources (especially money) […]