You would think being labeled as one of the leading authority figures for Entrepreneurs would be a tough burden to handle. But Peter Voogd has handled it like a champ. Peter is the author of the 27-Time International Best Seller "6 Months to 6 Figures," the star of his own show ("The Entrepreneur Grind" on the Whatever it takes network), host of the popular podcast "The Young Entrepreneur Lifestyle" and founder The Game Changers Academy.
His strategies have been shared in dozens of publications, including Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Yahoo Small Business, LinkedIn, and MSN.
What makes Peter a true inspiration, however, is his true story of going from completely broke to a earning a six figure income in just six months. It's a motivational lesson that most entrepreneurs should keep in mind during the more challenging times. In fact, that's why Peter has trained more than 4,000 fellow entrepreneurs and reaches some 20,000 people each month.
I recently had the honor of asking him to share some of his top tips and truths he's learned over the years as an entrepreneur.
You started your first business at the age of 15. What was inspired you to enter the business world at such an age?
To be honest it started as a hobby because I loved Air Jordan shoes, and had a knack for getting deals. Here was my turning point: A couple of my friends worked for my dad in construction, and I remember one day when my friends were piling sand in a bucket for my dad all day. I tried it and got half way down the hill and told my dad I had something I had to do so I couldn't finish. I really didn't like hard labor, and would do everything I could to get out of it.
I really wanted to see how my shoes were doing on eBay. To my surprise, I had made $91 dollars. I then immediately calculated how much my friend made working 8 hours with my dad, and it was $63. My 15-year-old mind was confused. I just made a $91 dollar profit on eBay, and it took me only 15 minutes and no physical labor. My friend worked his butt off for 8 hours and made only $63? "I am never getting a normal job," I thought to myself.
Here's what I realized years later, and it must be understood by you now. I didn't get paid for just posting on eBay.
I got paid for the courage to think differently and take a risk.
That opened up a whole new way of thinking, and introduced me to entrepreneurship, which saved my life. Up to that point, I felt like an outcast. I could not pay attention in class, I rebelled against those trying to control me, and I couldn't stand people putting a label on me. I had a taste of what was possible, and that's all I needed.
Before you were able to successfully reach six figures in six months, what kept driving you through the more difficult times?
Great question, and it was a combination of things. First I couldn't stand working an hourly job because regardless of how hard I worked, no matter how much value or business I brought to that business, I would make the same pay. No matter what my potential was, or how ambitious I acted, it meant nothing to my pay. It was the most de-motivating thing I've ever experienced and didn't want to go through that again. I wanted to design my future; I wanted my income to be based on my hustle, work ethic, and potential, not age, time on the job, or what others thought I was worth.
When I was in the struggle, it was tough to see a clear path to success, but I let my vision guide me, and not your current circumstances. I embraced the challenges, and found a mentor to help me cut my learning curve in 1/2. I realized a smart person learns from their mistakes, as all successful people do, but those who operate at a world class learn from others people's mistakes so they can shorten their learning curve by learning from them and not waste as much time making the same ones.
I got clear on who I was, who I wasn't, and who I needed to get out of the mess I was in. Lastly, I shifted my circle of influence and started connecting with those that had the results I was striving for. They helped me raise my standards, and start thinking at a higher level.
People need to realize that no matter where they are right now, they can always take it up a notch. Their possibilities are endless when they find enough compelling reasons. The goal is to create a "why" so strong that it pulls you through any challenge, past all doubters and over even your own limitations. We're in an economy that now welcomes the entrepreneur. It's become easier to realize your ideal future. It just takes compelling reasons,clear intentions, and the right guidance to turn the dream into a reality.
As a leading authority on Gen y leadership, what attributes do you feel millennials need to become successful entrepreneurs?
They must learn to do the un-required work
I've had the privilege to connect with the Vice President of the LA Clippers, Kevin Eastman numerous times. His wisdom is exceptional, and his many years of experience in the NBA gave me a sharpened perspective. When asked what separated the good players from the superstars he shared "They do the work that's un-required." These days young entrepreneurs want praise and recognition for doing whats required of them, and what everybody else does. Everybody wakes up early, everybody works extra hours, everybody has passion. What can you do that others aren't willing to do? It's often said you work 9--5 for survival, everything after is the real investment in your future.
Elevated Circle of Influence
Behind every successful entrepreneur you'll find an educated and wise mentor. I have yet to meet any who don't have mentors that guide them, challenge them, and focus them on thinking bigger. They understand deep down that it's impossible to grow, learn, and become the person needed to reach the million mark without an exceptional network behind you. Success rises and falls on who you associate with so make sure you stay aware of your surroundings. You can systematize a lot of things, but you can't systematize time, so make sure you're always spending it with the right people.
Maximizing Their Strengths
One of my favorite Gary Vaynerchuk quotes of all time is "I suck at 99 percent of stuff, but I go all out on that 1 percent I'm good at."
We're conditioned by our teachers, peers, parents, uneducated coaches and everybody else pumped to give advice that you must "learn to work on your weaknesses," and "strengthen your weaknesses," but all successful entrepreneurs and thriving millennials focus 100 percent on their best skills and strengths.
They learn to surround themselves with people who complement their weaknesses, or they delegate them. You'll never get wealthy focusing on things you aren't good at. What is your one thing? What can you become the best at? Now, once you master that area, and start producing real results, you can then move to something else. The jack of all trades is seldom exceptional at anything, and usually broke as well.
Never Trade Time for Money
Successful entrepreneurs realize they'll never become wealthy trading time for money, and neither will you. It's ok for a while, but at some point you have to focus on scaling and leverage. One of the reasons entrepreneurship, network marketing, direct sales, and internet businesses are growing exponentially is because of the endless possibilities and upside. It's not easy, and it takes risk, but you must see past the risk and focus on the rewards. Focus on the power of leverage and how to create consistent income without trading time for money. Investment properties, membership sites, building a brand, partnerships, affiliate marketing, different types of programs, etc. Take some time to really analyze if you're maximizing your time. If you are trading time for money make sure it's an intelligent trade.
They Need to Differentiate Themselves From the Majority
If you want to be successful look at what everybody else is doing and do the exact opposite. Instead of comparing yourself to others, differentiate. When you take more action and think bigger than everybody around you, you start becoming more valuable. When you consistently work hard without breaks, vacations, or weekend relaxation you build massive momentum and become more valuable. You will never become irreplaceable doing what everyone else does. Figure out what makes you different from most people. What can you do that nobody around you is doing?
What have been the hardest truths you've discovered with entrepreneurship?
Here's what I realized that was a big perspective change for me. You can either play it safe or become successful, but you can't do both.
1. Failure is the only thing guaranteed. Michael Jordan, the epitome of success, has said "I have failed over and over again, but that's why I succeed." How you respond to failure determines your success. Successful entrepreneurs are paid for their high tolerance for stress and pain. Successful people see failure different from the majority. Stay loyal to yourself through failure. Instead of taking failure personally, use it to sharpen your perspective and strengthen your commitment. Most new entrepreneurs beat themselves up but, to gain the competitive advantage, you must leverage failure for even greater success. Failure adds to your hunger and real hunger comes from tough times. Good luck finding hunger in the kids who have had everything given to them.
2. Habits trump inspiration. Inspiration is needed to create consistent action but your habits are ultimately going to define your success or failure. It's been said after seminars and conferences only 5 percent actually use what they've learned. Why? It's because inspiration is short-term, feels good in the moment, but doesn't last past the activity producing it. The biggest inspiration of all is seeing progress and results, which comes from new habits. When you begin the formation of a new habit, stick to it and see the lasting change in your new-found life. Great entrepreneurs focus on behavior and habits more than thought. Thinking is important, but doing is crucial.
3. Resourcefulness is the ultimate resource. The majority of people will say they don't have the resources. This resource belief structure keeps most people from building the world-class businesses they are capable of.
"I don't have enough time."
"I don't have enough money."
"I don't have enough experience."
"I didn't get enough training."
"I don't have the right people."
"My people aren't motivated."
"I don't have the right tools or technology."
"I don't have the right plan."
"I don't like my boss."
"I don't have the right resources."
The great entrepreneurs find a way to maximize whatever resources they have, as little as that may be.They don't believe in limited resources because they understand the ultimate resources are the feelings and emotions that make them resourceful. Tony Robbins, the well-known life coach and motivational speaker, says is perfectly. "Resourcefulness is the ultimate resource."
If you don't have the money, but you are creative enough can you find the money? YES! With enough determination and commitment can you make it work with little resources. The ultimate key is internal emotions.
4. Your circle of influence will make or break you. Leaving your mind open to the negative influence of other people is the most common weakness of new entrepreneurs. Poor choices of influence heads the top of the list of reasons most entrepreneurs quit prematurely.
To grow, learn, and become the person who achieves big success requires an exceptional supporting network. Successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with a powerful circle of influence who guide, challenge and help them think bigger.
Success rises and falls on who you associate with. Stay aware of your surroundings. You can systematize a lot of things but time isn't one of them, so make sure you're spending it with the right people.
Failure is a pretty common topic among the startup community. How do you personally handle failure?
It's not just common, it's crucial and success won't happen unless you experience failure. How you respond to failure determines your success. High tolerance for stress and failure is a skill successful people are paid for. I personally handle failure a couple different ways.
First, I understand failure is a crucial part of growth, and it can be a good thing if approached with the right perspective. Not only does failure give you a fresh perspective, but a different perspective than you had before. When you understand failure is a good thing, you take it on with courage and confidence. You become wiser, and when you have a higher sense of understanding about what you have failed in whether it's life or business you can make better decisions.
I also handle it by staying loyal to my vision and goals through failure. I keep that strong vision even when it doesn't seem like its unfolding exactly how they want it. I stay focused on my vision even when others don't approve because they know it's who they are. I keep my vision even when my confidence waivers.
The common theme here is those who achieve understand the importance of staying true to who they are, even when things are tough, and when people around them doubt their vision. Successful people learn to love failure. Where in your life do you need to challenge yourself and push yourself?
You must stay loyal to yourself through failure.You should always be building your confidence, don't be too tough on yourself during failure. Strengthen your commitment. Most start beating themselves up, but the select few leverage failure for even greater success.
What are some of the best tools and resources that a young entrepreneur can use to get started?
The best tools and resources I've used technology wise have been:
Here are a couple great networking resources for you:
How can struggling entrepreneurs and small business owners stay positive?
By expressing gratitude daily. Realize that somebody else is praying for the things you take for granted. Any time I'm in a bad mood or feeling negative I shift to gratitude. I ask myself three questions before I start my day:
They can also stay positive by staying intentional and looking at their goals and vision daily. This will keep you on purpose and remind you why you are working so hard. You must have goals and dreams to pull you through your toughest challenges. Only 5% of society has their goals written on paper. Those 5% make more than the other 95% combined.
Create what I call the "One Page Productivity Plan" where you put your vision statement, top five goals for the year and your biggest reasons onto one page. The greatest wisdom of all time is in astutely choosing what not to do with your time. Your one-page document helps you stay focused on what's most important.
Set intentions that inspire you to stay focused and not procrastinate. Make sure they're congruent with your clearly defined goals. Activities without purpose drain wealth and prosperity.
Get rid of toxic people.
This will make an immediate difference in your personal energy, peace of mind, and motivation level. So many people hang on to those who complain, bitch, moan, play victim, and continue settling for less than they are capable of. The people you surround yourself with should believe in you, encourage you and raise your standards.
Grant Cardone reminded me recently that, "If you still have all the same friends you had in high school, you probably haven't grown very much." Ouch.
Reevaluate the five people you're around the most. Limit time with or get rid of those who don't 100 percent support your vision. Life is too short for negativity. You'll never develop a positive life with a negative circle of influence.
How has entrepreneurship changed over the years?
Expressing your desire for entrepreneurship 15 years ago would have created laughter and an assumption that you're crazy. The tables have turned. Entrepreneurship has become one of the most respected and intelligent paths to take. It's saved our economy and moves our culture forward. Everything has changed. The A and B students are working for the companies the C and D students own.
The current trend of entrepreneurship is higher than ever. Our youth would rather start their own business than work for mediocre companies. The evolving technology has changed the way we communicate, and social media has made it an even playing field. The ideal dream "jobs" are disappearing fast, and creating your ideal opportunity is the new normal.
Years ago if somebody wanted to advertise their restaurant's grand opening, they would put an ad in the newspaper, create and run a TV commercial, or hand out flyers on the street. Now, in addition to traditional marketing, they can reach out to people directly through email newsletters, messages to their followers on Twitter and Facebook, or highly targeted ads that surface only to demographics that they specify. They can create a quick web video talking about a sale, showing the items available, and connecting with customers. If the video adds enough value it will exponentially grow, and even become viral.
Companies like Square empower even the smallest business owner to be able to accept credit card payments on their smart phones. Businesses like Groupon and LivingSocial will send your highly discounted coupons out to hundreds of thousands of new potential clients and social networks like Twitter will broadcast your marketing messages. This could not have happened 10 years ago.
Every entrepreneur knows the power of networking. You need to not only meet the right people, but stay on their minds so they will refer to you when projects arise. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook enhance your ability to set yourself up as an expert in your field, meet people, engage them in conversation, and stay in touch with them. Building these relationships will help bring in new leads, and partnerships to your business.
The internet, and the numerous social media sites that have been created have made it easier than ever to connect with business moguls and multi millionaires. I've personally built some great relationships with some very well-known authorities through social media.
Is all the hard work it takes being an entrepreneur really worth it?
It's 100% worth it, and I think everybody should have the opportunity to create a world-class lifestyle. What must be understood is the bigger the goals, the bigger the challenges. The bigger the rewards, the tougher the journey.
If becoming an entrepreneur was easy, everybody would be doing it and it wouldn't be worth much. The moment you pursue entrepreneurship, obstacles will show up. They test your character and faith but let you see if you're really serious about becoming an entrepreneur.
You must focus on the rewards on the other side of struggle. Visualize how good it will feel being your own boss, controlling your schedule, inspiring others and creating financial freedom. Chaos is guaranteed when you strive for entrepreneurial greatness.
It's important you accept that instead of fighting it. You'll never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have. I challenge you not to postpone your life. Most say "when I have more time I will take time for myself" but the reality is life waits for no one. Don't postpone travel or chasing your dreams. There has never been a better time in the history of our economy to create your ideal life.
Understand the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.