Litmus Test: Can You Be an Entrepreneur?
I get people all the time who tell me they'd like to be entrepreneurs. Often they have this wistful look in their eyes, as if to say "I would but..." and the "but" is often the list of obligations that is keeping them from doing it. Family. Mortgage. Kids. Job. Etc.
I've devised a litmus test to help those people, and anyone else, figure out if they really do have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It's easy, costs $100 or less, and you can do it in one afternoon. Think of it as being an entrepreneur with no strings attached; no long-term obligations. You'll find after this experience that you're hooked and you love it, and you want more of it, or that being an entrepreneur isn't for you.
So here's the litmus test: Go to Costco (if you don't have a membership, a friend surely does) and buy one of their discount ticket packs. You can find these for restaurants, museums, ski lift tickets, movie tickets, football games, golf courses, spas, and gyms. Pick the one you're most familiar with. Then, go out and sell them for more than you bought them for, and see how much margin you can make. It's that easy.
In fact, it doesn't even really matter if you only make a few dollars doing this - it's the experience of buying the items at one price, then selling them for more, dealing with inventory, convincing people to buy what you have to sell, etc. that matters.
Here are a few examples & ways you could do it:
Alpine Meadows - 4 day pass for $199. You could buy a few of these, and then put ads up on Craigslist and try selling them for $250. Or you could go to the ski lift and stand near the ticket window and sell them there.
Van Gogh museum tour - $17.99 (includes audio tour) at the de Young fine arts museum in San Francisco. The cost to purchase on their website is $16 + $1 handling + $7 for the audio tour = $23. So you've got $5 of margin. Stand out front of the museum and sell the tickets for $20 each.
Movie tickets - Buy two for $15.99. Tickets at the ticket counter are $10.99 each, so you have $3 of margin to play with. Sell a ticket for $9. Even better, go with a friend, get in the front of the line for popular shows and sell your passes for as much or more than the regular price to people at the end of the line (have your friend send them up to the front of the line). It's experiences like this, where you're iterating on little things to make even more margin, that are the hallmark of a good entrepreneur.
Don't think you're comfortable standing outside a museum hawking tickets? Afraid the management will come kick you off the premises? (They probably will.) Then those are great indications you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur. The possible rejection you'll face hawking tickets for an afternoon isn't even a drop in the bucket compared to the barrage you'll face on a daily (and I mean daily) basis as an entrepreneur. If you're not willing to bend the rules to your will, seek out opportunities that others don't see and execute on them in the face of rejection, then you're note ready to be an entrepreneur. And that's ok - this unbalanced, crazy lifestyle is not for everyone.
The reality is that getting over this initial fear of rejection is just a first, small part of being an entrepreneur. There are many other facets to being a successful entrepreneur, such as leading and managing people, executing flawlessly over and over again, seeing trends before others do, hedging for risk, and many other things. But really, most people never even get past this initial fear, and spending 3 hours to walk away with a little extra cash in your pocket, and the self-assurance that you can take rejection from 9 people for every 1 that says "I'll take it" is priceless.
Here are some pics of all the Costco discount ticket packs I found today.