The other day, while slowly sipping coffee (ok fine, it was water, coffee just sounded cooler), an old friend of mine was telling me about the new business he had just started. They provide staking as a service for cryptocurrencies. If your first thought was “dude, What. The. Hell. are you talking about”, rest easy.
Unlike the dozens of low-barrier business models that the rise of entrepreneurship on the digital era has brought up, what he does is truly complex –both technically and legally. It’s not just another online get-rich-quick scheme.
And look, I am not shitting on anyone that tries to make money through the Internet:
I started selling designer bags on eBay (yes, out of all things) when I was fifteen. I’d list the items online and, when they sold, I’d run to the store, buy them, and ship them.
Low-barrier businesses look great on paper
They require very little money and time to set up. They are simple and straightforward. They make sense. And they make you feel like you are going to kill it from day one. But they also create false expectations.
Take a look at drop shipping, for example. Yes, you can have a website from Shopify for $30/month. And you can source products from China without having to speak with any supplier. You don’t have to take care of shipping, website design, product development, inventory… nothing. It’s fast, quick, and simple.
At least that’s what they want you to think. But, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Anything that’s fast and easy for you, well, it’s also fast and easy for everyone else.
The pretty website Shopify made for you? Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have the same one too.
The cute products you are bringing in from China? They are the same that everyone else is selling.
Soft barriers to entry mean high competition, which translates into a lower upside for you.
Where do you think there’s more competition, drop shipping the same old cat t-shirts from somewhere in Asia or my friend’s new company in the financial-technology field?
That’s something I take into consideration when investing in businesses through Polpo Group. Very profitable companies have a unique competitive advantage that allows them to play in a game where competitors still deal with high barriers to entry.
For example, the arena my friend’s company competes in is hard to get into. You need years of experience, software development expertise, a strong network, and a solid understanding of blockchain technology. Not many people can mirror his business.
High risk, high reward
These requirements create a moat that stops the masses from entering the market. The reward for those that are brave enough to approach and not shy away from complex issues –despite the higher risk of failure, will be (if they pull it off) much more rewarding –both in terms of economic and emotional return.
Another example: I moderate the #1 community for business owners that run service businesses where I help them grow their business to 7 figures, avoid the pitfalls I fell into along the way, share all the things I didn’t know but WISH I did in hindsight, and share resources that have taken me years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to create.
If you wanted to open a similar group and truly help other business people you would need to spend years going through the process of building a multi 7 figure service based business to have that experience first hand–not easy to replicate.
Picture a river with a beaver dam. Most water will stop down as soon as it hits the trees, and people do the exact same thing. The moment we perceive that something might be more difficult than we expected, the moment not everything goes our way… we just stop.
We don’t try to keep going and fight through.
It’s much easier to turn around, give up, and try something easier, right?
But no beaver dam stops all water. Some of it still trickles down through the branches and keeps on flowing down the river. Those branches are just like the barriers that we face both in business and life: lack of money, time constraints, complexity, fear of failing, and any other reason (or excuse) that you can think of.
The truth is, I’ve also struggled to choose the scary route over taking the easy way out. As the CEO of Jakt, a multi-million dollar company, however, there’s no room for letting my emotions get the best out of me.
Back in 2015, over half my team quit (read the full story here) because I was not able to set an inspiring vision, promote a positive culture, and help the people on my team grow both personally and professionally. I knew it was my fault, and I thought about shutting down the business and move to something easier.
Instead, I decided to embrace the discomfort and push through it. Now, I am not saying it was easy –all the opposite. But not turning my back on something I had worked for the moment shit started going down is what helped me and Jakt grow on the following years.
But how can you rewire yourself, stop running away from challenges, and start tackling them head on?
First, you have to understand what you are really fighting. Why do we humans LOVE to take the easy way out?
It’s not just because we are lazy or scared. It’s because we are fighting the natural animalistic tendency of preservation. Flying away from danger used to be an essential element of survival, but not anymore. You can (and should) stray away from that.
The problem is that we give meaning to the things that happen to us –when, in reality, they’re just that… things. Nothing less, nothing more.
If you get fired, then you don’t have a job, period –but it doesn’t mean that you are not good enough or not worthy to be employed. If a business deal doesn’t go through, then it just didn’t go through, period –but it doesn’t mean you or your company suck because of it.
It’s the stories we tell ourselves that stop us from leaning into discomfort.
But you can take the reigns, control your lens, and change that story. Only then you will break out from your comfort zone and start doing things that scare you.
I’m an introvert. Do I like to go and have dinner with a bunch of strangers that I don’t know? Of course not! And I still don’t always say yes. But, when I do, I know that I am pushing myself and I’ll grow because of it. Hell, it can even change your life.
But it works like a muscle: the more you exercise your mental flexibility, the easier it gets to fight your fears and rewire yourself. Soon enough, you’ll actually start noticing your thoughts better and being more self-aware. Instead of running away from discomfort, you’ll love it, lean into it, and crave the high that comes from overcoming one challenge after another.
What’s the takeaway here?
The truth is that we love taking the easy way out.
When facing two different options, most of us would rather go for the one that takes less time, effort, and money. But, by doing that, we are missing out on the high rewards that lay in the shadow of our doubts and discomfort.
Transitioning towards rewiring yourself requires an active effort from your part. When something looks hard, complex or challenging, do not shy away from it. Approach it with curiosity, lean into it, and jump into the pool head first. Because if it was easy…
I recently met with an old friend of mine to talk about the new company he started. They provide staking as a service in the fintech and blockchain space. Yes, it sounds difficult… and the truth is, it is difficult. Especially when compared to all these get-rich-quick schemes that “online entrepreneurship” has brought us.
Dropshipping, for example. While it can be a legitimate business model, most people are attracted to it because it’s simple and easy. Get a store from Shopify, outsource some shitty product from China, and figure out a way to sell it to someone (without telling him it will take 8 weeks to get there).
But you know what they say, “if it was easy, everyone would do it”, well, everyone is doing it. Thousands of people have the same store and source the same products as you. Low-barriers of entry mean extremely high competition and a low potential upside –just because you wanted to take the easy way out.
But this doesn’t just happen in business.
Take a look at your daily life, how many decisions are you procrastinating on because you are scared they’re not easy?
All the requirements –whether that’s investing time, money, effort, etc.– create a moat around the potential reward, and this stops most people from even trying.
Sometimes this moat is made of real, valid arguments. To compete with my friend’s company you need a team of people that are experienced in the field, understand its technical and legal complexities, are capable of software development, and have received enough funding to get started. Yup, not easy.
Or, for example, I moderate a community for service-based business owners that want to break through the first million dollars per year. To replicate this business and truly help people, you need to already have a company that makes over 7 figures –which takes a lot of time to build.
But sometimes this moat is made of excuses.
How many times have you heard someone say… I’d start a company BUT I don’t have time. Or I want to start writing BUT it’s so hard. Or I want to make money BUT I don’t have enough to invest.
Excuses are just stories that we tell ourselves. They set up home on the precious real estate of your mind and make you walk away from challenges and discomfort. They stop you from looking at your fears straight into the eyes and overcoming them.
And yes, the chances of failure go up when you do stuff you are not comfortable with. Back in 2015, over 50% of my team quit their jobs. As the CEO of Jakt, I knew I had not been the leader I needed to be –I even thought about shutting down the business.
But when you hit resistance, you either turn around and go find something easier, or you push through it until you get to the other side. And, even it meant lots of sleepless nights, that’s what I had to do.
How you face complex situations will determine your personal growth and professional success. We, humans, LOVE to take the easy way out. It keeps us in our comfort zone –and it doesn’t challenge us.
But when facing a difficult, complex, and uncomfortable situation, you can either shy away from it or lean into it. Rewiring yourself to enjoy discomfort and approaching it head on will bring you the higher rewards of the extra mile –and, trust me, it’s the least crowded.