The advice I give every 20 year old I meet (and two things every human should do to increase chances of staying live)

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I received this email recently:

“I wanted to ask if you had any advice for a 20-year old looking to begin their journey in entrepreneurship, specifically in real estate or business services? Thank you!”

I responded with this:

Unless you have rich parents or very wealthy friends you can raise money from, forget real estate for now or simply get a job in the real estate business as a broker, agent, loan officer, something.

Real estate is not the best way to build wealth because it is insanely capital intensive. The most capital intensive business in the world actually. If you can raise money, go for it. If you can’t…

Learn to operate a company instead.

You’ll learn skills that will serve you forever (management, sales, hiring, firing, delegation).

How do I start?

My advice is to go trade your time for money doing something for yourself where you can make $50-100 an hour. I was making $40 an hour in 2003 running a lawn care company.

Once you get more work coming in the door than you can do, hire somebody!

That is how most entrepreneurial journeys start.

Not with a big idea. Not with raising money. Not at a pitch competition.

By going out and doing work for money and then building from there.

Another email I received:

“I’m not ready to start a company because I have a lot to learn and I need money now. What career should I pursue?”

My response:

Pick a career with “time leverage”.

Do a job where the people who win can stop working and keep getting paid.

Most jobs people simply trade their time for money. If they stop working, there is no residual income and no ability to delegate.

Good options:

Entrepreneurship, operations, sales, insurance, wealth management, etc.

Bad options:

Doctor, lawyer, teacher, anyone doing repetitive tasks that can’t be delegated or billing by the appointment / hour.

A good test for this:

Go to the golf course on Tuesday afternoon. Walk up to everyone playing golf who is younger than retirement age and ask them what they do…

It is VERY likely that they have time-leverage and are getting paid right there on the golf course. Those are the jobs you want.

The kicker:

Most of those jobs (sales, insurance, wealth management) all start off very slow. It takes doing hard work for years to build a book of business that then pays you for the rest of your life.

If you’re looking for a hair brain scheme to get rich from, it won’t happen.

Another thing about getting jobs that are more likely to lead to success:

Finding a growth oriented owner in a growing company is where all the opportunity is.

You can’t rise up quickly through the ranks at Goldman. You can’t get promoted at your big 4 position 3 times in 1 year. There is structure, bureaucracy, way of doing things.

At a small busienss that is growing like crazy all bets are off and the cream rises to the top quickly.

You can start at a company like that and be running the damn thing a few years later if you have a smart, aggressive owner.

Find that if you really want to bet on yourself. Find the chaos.

Another hard-fast rule for young hustlers who want to start their first business:

If you aren’t rich yet, every business you start needs to be cashflow-positive in the first 3-6 months.

If your business can’t do that for you and you aren’t rich, you need to go find a new business or go work for somebody who has a big idea.

Starting a new-idea business takes skills and it takes backup capital. Cash to fall back on. The ability to pay your bills while you gamble and experiment with your time.

Trade your time for money and bootstrap a business.

Last piece of advice for young people:

Define what RICH means to you.

How much money do you need to do what you want when you want 100% of the time?

How much money coming in each month do you need to live the life you want?

For me that was $20k when I did this exercise back in 2008.

If I made $20k a month working a few hours a week (owning assets that made me money) I could join a local country club, send my kids to a good school, and not worry about money. I’m not a complicated individual with expensive taste.

What level of rich is your goal?

Run every career decision from that point forward through this test:

And remember something else:

Move quickly. Respond to emails quickly. Work quickly. Make decisions quickly.

It will get you ahead of almost everybody.

PSA #1:

Put your family in a large vehicle. It doesn’t need to break the bank. I spent $36k on a 2021 Expedition with 75k miles on it in April of last year. Don’t believe me? Read this.

PSA #2:

Learn to use a tourniquet and carry one with you at all times. Most accident victims don’t die from blunt force, they die because they bleed out before EMTs can arrive. Read this for my guide.

Onward and upward,

Nick Huber


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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.