A few days ago my consulting services were booked by a Retired European Pensioner who wanted my expertise on helping him set up his Personal & Professional Brand Online.
He let me know that he wanted to set up a website & also create an app to help him grow his business. And he wanted me to tell him all the tricks, tips & strategies of ensuring it would be cost effective.
My first question to him was “What is the reason for this endeavor?”
He responded by saying, he wanted to create something that would give him passive income per month and help him live a better retired life.
No sooner he mentioned this, I told him not to go ahead with the project and that if he did go ahead and if he did book my services — all he would end up doing was ‘help me make more money by spending from his savings & his pension’.
Curiously he asked me why?
Because apparently, as per his friends — his idea was well-received by his friends, everyone told him that this was a unique idea that no one else was doing and that if he got into this first — he would have a great chance of making a lot of money — simply because he was the first person to start this service.
So then, I gave him my logical reasons:
- Creating a website maybe cheap — creating an app with all the features & functions isn’t.
- After you create the website and the app — you will have to pay individuals & teams to maintain your website & app — which is an additional expense per month.
- The app would have to maintained & upgraded every time there is an operating system update. He would also have to ensure cross platform functionality of both the website & app.
- You will have to ensure systems are created and built in place to ensure great customer experience.
- You will need to ensure traffic flows into your website through blogs, videos & creative effort. This is a daily grind.
- You will have to make sure that you advertise & market your website & make it tempting for others to use your app and for that you would have to spend on Facebook or Google. And then you would have to keep spending money until you figure out what strategy works best for you. For that you need to spend money per month and there may not be any guaranteed returns.
- Any new business venture takes at least 2 years of dedicated time, effort & money being invested without any returns. For someone who is a lone pensioner — is that the road he wants to take? Would he want this kind of stress, pressure & unpredictability?
- If you have no business experience, you do not know how to use social media, you do not know the fundamentals of Online Marketing at all — at the age of 60, you are not going to suddenly become the next incarnation of Colonel Sanders.
- And lastly — if after all this time, effort and money — if the project fails — you lose all the time, effort and money you invested. Are you prepared to take that risk — ESPECIALLY when you are not earning anything and do not have any other means to earn or get employment?
After listening to all that I had to say, the poor old chap told me he never thought of all this. And that for now, at this point in his life — he wasn’t interested in complicating his life. He had lost enough money in the past and now he wasn’t ready to lose any more.
He then thanked me for my advice and we parted ways.
The fact of the matter is so many people today assume starting a business is the ticket to financial freedom and the road to being ‘your own boss’. In as much as all this is true — we need to be very aware of the amount of work, effort, sacrifice, stress, pressure, headaches, heartaches and most importantly — the possibility failure is very real and very present. It all sounds good, hunky-dory and nice when someone announces “I’m going to pursue my dreams or I’m starting a new business”. Yes, it feels nice. But starting a business is just one part of the story. Running a business is totally something else.
Its more akin to the romantic memories & moments of the wedding day. But after all that magic, comes the daily grind of reality.
Yes, I am aware that maybe I was overly cautious with this gentleman — but would you have suggested that I advice a 60-year old to gamble his life-savings into a business venture he knew nothing about? had ZERO experience? and didn’t know if he had the capacity to handle the mental, physical & emotional pressure?
Had he been in his 20’s — trust me — I would have told him to aim big, go bigger and fighter even higher. In fact, I would even tell him to take a bank loan, bet his house and borrow from all his relatives if he truly believed in his dream.
But this is a man who is in the twilight of his life. All alone with no one else to look after him. Would you seriously suggest, I advice him to take a risk which may cost him everything — and risk destroying his life?
In a world filled with too much motivation, too much inspiration and too much “Achieve the impossible”, I think its necessary for someone to acknowledge the elephant in the room. And that elephant screams of one statement — we need to stay grounded, we need to be realistic and we need to accept that we do have limitations.
It feels nice to hear “you can achieve the impossible”. But there should be a line drawn some where that achieving the impossible shouldn’t eclipse using ones common sense.
And when everyone shouts “Yes, Yes, Yes”, I think someone should balance the argument and say….maybe, just maybe, this could be a “No”