A lot of people talk about their first “job” and what they learned from it, or starting their first “full fledged” business, but I rarely read online people’s first experience with starting “something” for profit. I am talking more grassroots…the “quasi” business. The idea that you are creating value that someone is going to purchase can be understood by the youngest of children, and I distinctly remember two experiences, neither of which I am proud of that taught me entrepreneurial lessons that stick with me today.
My First Memory of Being an Entrepreneur
Again, I am not particularly proud of this quasi business, but you have to at least throw me some credit for coming up with a way to receive a check.
When I was younger Iwas familiar with the “Warez” scene, Wikipedia defines the scene as,
copyrighted works distributed without fees or royalties, and may be traded, in general violation of copyright law. The term generally refers to unauthorized releases by organized groups, as opposed to file sharing between friends or large groups of people with similar interest using a darknet…This term was initially coined by members of the various computer underground circles, but has since become commonplace among Internet users and the mass media.
So a buddy and I had an idea! We would create a completely fake ‘organized group.’ We had no interest in breaking copyright laws or stealing. So we would tell people to come to our rudimentary webpage for free software. The page was a single color with no heading and just had a list of links advertising to download certain programs at the time. Literally the page had no pictures and was even hosted on geocities. Yes, this was a time in technological history when people would click a link to download a random program…oh wait that still happens today and forces me to clean up every family members’ computer monthly.
But since, I didn’t have any of the illegal programs what would happen when the visitor clicked to download what they thought would be an illegal copy of a program? An adult website that would pay my friend and I a few cents every time. The pay-per-click advertiser never asked us for identification or even a social security number.
I learned three very simple lessons from this quasi-business.
Three Lessons Learned With This Quasi-Business
Maybe a pre-teen should already known these three simple lessons, but I didn’t and I learned the hard way.
Lesson One: Know How You are Getting Paid
The business world, at the time, dealt in paper checks so when you are 12 and don’t have a checking account and you aren’t ready to share your entrepreneurial spirit with your parents a paper check is near worthless. It is the equivalent of holding a coconut and trying to trade it for some pizza. Which leads us directly into lesson 2.
Lesson Two: Be Proud of What You Created
If you aren’t proud enough to tell your parents what you are doing to make money you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Lesson Three: You Need to Bring Value to Your Customers/Clients
Lastly, and probably the most important lesson I learned is that you can only rip people off for so long. Once it was figured out this organization brought no value to our “customers” the clicks dried up. This is the reason I believe most businesses fail – they fail to provide a worthwhile value for what they are charging.
What was your first quasi-business? If I get 10 fun ones to read I’ll share my second which is just as ridiculous and taught as many useful lessons.