What I Learned From My First Business

This is the Fifth post in our blog series about lessons learned from failures. Over the next couple months we will have guest posts every week from some truly impressive people who will share their insights with our readers. Please come back every Friday and follow the series. This weeks post comes to us from Heath Padgett.

In college I launched a social clothing line called Aristo Movement. I had no idea what I was getting into. I had no background in fashion nor graphic design and I had no interest in pursuing fashion as a career. None the less, I filed an LLC, sought out trademark attorneys, raised thousands of dollars for charity, and still have Aristo ambassadors who run around with my logo on their extremely comfortable t-shirts.

I ran the business for almost two years before realizing I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. However, I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my entire life while building my first business, I had done something to set me apart from my peers and ultimately give me a heads up on all those in my age range- I had built something.

What had I built? A small clothing line that never gained a ton of momentum.

What had I learned? Because I had taken action on an idea, I had a number of opportunities open up for me because I was simply willing to build.

I like using the term build because it implies action. When you’re building a house, you can’t always worry about the end result, you just have to get to work and start building otherwise nothing is ever going to happen. You can sit around all day and talk hypotheticals, but the guy next door has already built a foundation, messed up a few times, tore it down, corrected course, and is five steps ahead of you.

Build a clothing line. Build a blog that attracts a lot of followers. Build a community organization. And here’s the key, don’t worry about whether or not it will be successful. Why should you not worry? Because if it’s successful, then great, you’ve built something successful. If whatever you’re building is not successful, then the art of building something in the first place will have presented you with additional opportunities, lessons for growth, and a great number of experiences during the process.

My expression of building can be vague, so let me give you another example. Right now I’m traveling across America on a seven month journey to all fifty states, where I’m working a different hourly wage job in each state. I’m doing this and filming along the way and the entire journey will be converted into a documentary that highlights the stories of everyday hourly workers throughout America.

I’m 23-years-old and before this trip I had never been paid to write an article or film a video by anyone. Ever. I left this job from a sales position right out of college and now my entire income is based off of writing and freelance related projects. Yes, there was a learning curve in between there somewhere, however, I’m building something called Hourly America.

I don’t know whether or not my end result- a documentary- will be successful. But at this point, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because I’ve taken action on this idea I’ve already had a myriad of options open up to my future. I have a chance to work as a paid consultant for a very successful author, I’ve shared my stories on several national media outlets, traveled to 38 out of 50 states, seen the country with my newlywed wife and have a number of opportunities for “work” if I needed a job upon finishing this trip.

All of these opportunities have come about not because I’ve created something successful, but purely because I had the tenacity to stand out and build something. I only use my work as illustration, not as bragging rights. I say all this to say I’m not the smartest guy in the world, so if I can do these kinds of things- so can you. This method applies for entrepreneurs, members of large companies, and anyone who wants to be seen as a doer instead of someone who talks about possibly doing something, one day.

What are you going go to build? Better question yet, why haven’t you started yet?

Heath Padgett is a film maker, RVer, and writer who is traveling across America on a seven month quest to work a different hourly wage job in every state. Read more about his adventure here! 

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