7-Years and Counting!
Merchant Maverick has come a long way since July of 2009. Back then I was afraid. I was afraid that my idea would fail. I was afraid that I’d run up my credit cards and that I’d go broke. I thought I’d have to sleep in my car, and would eventually be homeless. Fear is so irrational. Even though I knew my “worst-case scenario” wouldn’t be nearly as bad as my fearful mind was making it out to be, I was still overcome with anxiety.
Then I remembered an idea I picked up from The Four Hour Work Week. It’s the Stoic idea that living your worst-case scenario for a day (or more) would free you from the fear of its possibility. Though I didn’t actually test the theory, I did imagine it in my own mind. I imagined that I had failed, I imagined that I was broke, and I imagined that I was homeless. But I also imagined that, despite it all, I would be ok. That I would survive, and that I would walk away with the invaluable knowledge of at least attempting to start a business. Knowledge that I could apply to my next venture. Preparing for the worst, gave me room to function at my best.
For the first six-months I forced myself to consistently write four blog posts a week. I didn’t think about making money, I just made myself write. I remember I would wake up (…late), handle a few emails, plan my day, go for a trail run, then around 4-5pm I would head to the local coffee shop to bang out some writing. I would get excessively caffeinated, and break out my 10″ Lenovo Netbook. The keyboard was so small it made my fingers hurt typing on it. Day after day I would drive to the coffee shop, and day after day, I would continue writing. Meanwhile my credit card balances increased, along with my fears of failure.
I finally started making some money from Merchant Maverick in early 2010, but my income was definitely not where it needed to be. I can’t count how many times I thought about quitting because of it. I remember calculating my monthly revenue and thinking that I would never get to a level where I could live comfortably. Was I wasting my time? Should I have started a different business? Irrational fears. Nevertheless, I pushed through, and every time I did, I would be rewarded for it. Something positive would happen. It was like The Universe was giving me hope.
It took me a little over two years before I was earning enough to pay my living expenses. I was finally able to breathe a little, and even though I wasn’t nearly where I wanted to be, at least the fear of going broke had officially disappeared. The breather didn’t last long though; it was time to scale.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone, but surprise surprise, I was too afraid to hire someone. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I waste all my money? What if? What if? What if? Fuck you fear, I did it anyway.
I hired my cousin who happened to be an awesome writer, and with him, I expanded into a second category, POS software. The POS category started earning revenue, so I figured it would be wise to expand into even more verticals. The rest, as they say, is history.
Once I got over the fear of hiring and delegating, that’s when Merchant Maverick really started to do well. When you hire great talent and get out of your own way, you propel yourself much further and much quicker than you can ever go on your own. I now have an unbelievable team of talented writers, researchers, editors, and support reps that can do their jobs far better than I can. I let them do what they want because I trust them. The fear is gone.
So here I am, seven years later, wondering if it’s a good or a bad thing that the fear no longer exists, and then I’m reminded of a quote from a great book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway:
“The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow” – Susan Jeffers
I guess it’s time to grow. 😉