Before we jump in, you should know this is the 2nd strategy I’m sharing about how to start a business while still paying student loans.  I shared 1 last week.  This coming Friday, I’m sharing all 7 on a live webinar.  Be sure to register for the webinar so that you can all 7 strategies and the chance to get your questions answered live.  To register, visit

Make No Small Plans…

Let’s pretend you want to get into the movie-making business.  There are a few major players in the industry and it takes a lot of money to compete.  Yet, in recent history, a few companies have proven it’s possible.

For example, you could go the route of Marvel and start making shows and films after decades and decades of being in a related business.  Just like Marvel, you might license characters and eventually be owned by Disney to really make it work.  Chances are though, if you’re reading this blog, you probably haven’t been alive as long as Marvel has been in operation.  They started officially in 1939 but their modern incarnation dates to 1961.  Overall, it’s unlikely that their route would work for you.

Instead, you might go the route of a company like Netflix.  They started in 1997 simply shipping DVDs in the mail.  From what I’ve heard, they would go to a big box store to purchase the DVDs.  It was a pretty small way to start.  From there, they were able to raise $30 million in 1999.  Then they switched to online streaming in 2007 (10 years later).  Switching to online streaming was no small feat and an entirely different business model.  They continued to grow.  In 2013, they created their first original content, House of Cards.  Again, not a small feat and an entirely different business model.

Of course the story is more complicated but the point is how small they started.  The 2 men who founded the company had a lot of money but they still started really small and laddered up from there.  There are other examples.  Amazon started with just selling books and now even hosts Netflix’ data.

On the one hand, I’m not always a big fan of creating these giant corporations that have so much power.  Remember Spiderman’s uncle famously said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  In fact, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know I’m on the side of the local, independent businesses.

On the other hand, I’m a big fan of the big dream you probably have for you and your business.  It might not be as big as the movie-making business or becoming an internet giant.  That’s probably a good thing.  To you though, your dream is big.  My dream to open a single coffee house in Chicago was a big, scary, audacious dream to me when I started.

Starting Small

A big reason I was able to move that dream into reality was that I started with my own version of small.

For me, it was selling coffee beans.  I’d literally take orders in advance, get on the Blue Line El train (our public transit for those unfamiliar with Chicago) with an empty suitcase, get bags of coffee from our roaster, take the El with my full suitcase back to my neighborhood, and distribute the beans directly to people’s condos.  It wasn’t scalable.  It got some cash flow going.  It proved that people liked us and wanted us to get going.  It meant that we had customers already when we finally opened.  The biggest point is that it didn’t require any money up front and I could start quickly.  I already had a suitcase and the customers paid me in advance.

What about you?  How can you start small with your business?  Ask yourself, “What could I start selling tomorrow?”

Laddering Up

The next part is where it gets most exciting.

As you start small and leverage your small beginning to see your dream reach fulfillment, you’ll start to see more clearly the next rung of the ladder.  Who knows if the people who started Netflix or Amazon knew where they would be today when they first started out?  My guess is they probably didn’t.  Their dreams were still big but probably not that big.

The point here is to focus on the dream you have today and how to get started as quickly as possible.  Once today’s dream is accomplished, there might be another dream that appears in view.  That dream will take you and your business to the next level.

Take It Slow

I’ve talked a lot about what to do.  Let me share my opinion on what NOT to do.

I highly suggest not laddering up too quickly.  You don’t want to short change your initial dream.  You want to make sure you learn all the lessons you can with your current rung on the ladder before you move on to the next.  Unfortunately, people who move up the ladder too quickly often end up back on the ground with nothing to show for it.  Take your time and milk each rung for all it’s worth.  You can’t rush the process.

Wrapping Up

Here are 2 things that older, wiser people than me have said to me along my journey that helped me start small and be ready to ladder up later.  I hope you find them inspiring.

“Success isn’t where you are.  It’s how far you’ve come.” It’s your journey, no one else’s.  Define success, not by how much you accumulate or where you are compared with someone else.  Measure your success by how far you’ve come and by how far you go from where you currently are.

“Go as far as your can see and then you’ll see farther.” If you feel like your vision is relatively small, you’re probably in a better place than those with “larger” dreams.  You have the opportunity to focus, start small, see your vision through, and then look around and see what’s next.  You’re much more likely to enjoy the process rather than always thinking about the destination.

But wait! There’s more and it won’t cost you a penny…

Like I mentioned when we first started.  We created a free webinar for you!

This strategy I presented today was only 1 of 7 proven strategies.   We will be sharing all 7 coming up in a live webinar.  I mean really,  who wouldn’t want to know the strategies to not only start your journey but to leave a legacy and have financial freedom all at the same time.   The official title of the webinar is “7 Proven Strategies for Starting a Business While Still Paying Student Loans (Without Refinancing or a Rich Relative).

Click here for the times and claim your spot today!