John Lee Dumas had had enough of wasting his time. He’d left the army at 26, dropped out of law school, kicked his heels in corporate finance, tried real estate but he still hadn’t found the thing that he felt he was supposed to do. The only thing he knew for sure was that he hated wasting time. He’d waste it commuting to work, and he’d waste it at the gym. Both of those were times he felt he could also spend learning about business and entrepreneurship.
He looked for a podcast he could listen to while sitting in traffic and running on the treadmill, and when he didn’t find what he wanted, he started his own. Each day, he’d interview an entrepreneur. He’d ask them how they built their businesses, what lessons they learned, and what advice they had for other entrepreneurs. He interviewed Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Robbins. His Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast started gathering an audience. It took off.
What it didn’t do though, was make money. Not right away. For those first months, even the first year, it wasn’t money that supported the podcast and kept John Lee Dumas interviewing people and broadcasting his recordings.
It was passion. It was love. It was fun. He enjoyed what he was doing, so he kept doing it, even though it wasn’t making money.
We all dream of launching a business and seeing it rocket towards an exit in months. We all want to launch big, work hard, and fly fast before leaping out with a golden parachute.
In practice, that rarely happens. Businesses take time to build. You can hustle and grind for months. You can start early, work late, and never see your family in the hope that when you’re done you’ll be able to see them all the time on your private Caribbean island. But it’s more likely that after a few months, you’ll have frustration, burnout, and trouble at home than a business that will give you the lifestyle you dream of.
Unless you’re enjoying yourself. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing anyway, then it doesn’t matter if the business doesn’t make money. It doesn’t matter if no one wants to buy you out or take over the company. You’ll keep your day job and you’ll keep doing this second job on the side because it’s fun. It’s the best hobby you’ve ever had, and it’s a lot more rewarding than searching through Netflix for something to watch.
You’ll keep doing it even though it’s not making money… until one day it does. And that will be even more fun. So you’ll keep going, and you’ll make a little more money until one day, you’ll find that this thing you’re doing for fun is actually a thing that you can do full-time for a bigger salary than you’re making at your day job.
It can take years to create a successful business. Those are often years without revenue, or even any sign of revenue. Instead of thinking of those times as a launch period in which you test the market and kick the wheels of your business plan, think of it as a time when you discover whether this is something you want to do. Think of it as a filter that blocks work that isn’t enjoyable. Only the stuff you really want to do will make it through and keep going until the revenue starts to flow.
John Lee Dumas didn’t make any money at first but sixteen months after starting his podcast, it was generating $150,000 a month. It makes over $220,000 a month now and has given him his dream lifestyle: doing what he loves because he loves to do it.