5 Principles That Made My Successful Business at Age 14

successful business


Everybody has a hard times at their jobs, especially when the boss or the very situation demands you to deal with things that you hate or your not good at.

Even worse is when you find yourself in that dark crossing of I Hate My Job Street with I Could Be More Avenue.

Don’t worry, you are simply a poorly used talent.

The best way to show people that this is simply a temporary phase is with childhood examples.

Narrating this from a personal experience is quite a swim in the lakes of nostalgia and it brings me back to high school.

I was, definitely, a rock in the shoe of all my teachers.

I could describe myself as the eye of the hurricane; I was always the center of the mess and  destruction but always managed to escape unharmed by the punishments and bad grades.

My martyr will be that annoying, hated, boring class that simply never ended. We know that the clock showed we are there for just 20 minutes, but we can swear to god that actually it is, approximately, a couple weeks.

I was never a valedictorian, but during the whole high school and college I made more money than my friends and, later, more than my teachers.

My business at 14 year old was selling cards from trading cards games, like Pokemon, but in this it was Magic: The Gathering.

I also worked as a cleaner in some sort of Brazilian version of Chuck-E-Cheese, but I was merely an employee making $10 per night.

With my business I was making 70% of a minimum wage, working with something that I enjoyed, I could choose my working hours and study at the same time.

As a matter of fact, school was very important for me. All my clients were there.

1. If you’re terrible at it, it’s because you probably hate it

The same goes for studying those hated topics; for me there was no worse torture than studying a few hours of galician-portuguese trovadorism for the literature test.

It took me hours to cover just 30% of the whole material.

Now when we are talking about physics or math, oh boy, in 20 minutes I could read it all.

Therefore my math grades were always high with no effort, and getting the minimum grade at literature was always a struggle.

Later, when I had my companies, I had a supervisor that never could really manage a rift in between co-workers properly, because he hated to rant on people and he wasn’t much of a sensitive guy.

He would stall it, talk around it, avoid the topic every time he was with me.

It wasn’t because he was a bad employee, by no means, but he simply hated that. Even though he managed it very poorly, somehow he was a very good worker and didn’t like to perform badly.

My leadership mistake.

He was a neat organizer. He could check, recount and optimize my stock really fast. He could take a look at my worksheets and find mistakes and anomalies faster than I could and also he was very, very fast doing and checking cash-outs. He could find a needle in the haystack.

Eike Batista, one of the richest billionaires in Brazil, said in his biography “I’m not the best in everything, but surely I have the best on my team”.

It’s true that some people don’t like him because he lost half of his fortune in some really bad moves lately, but after that incredible multi-billion loss, his net worth is still valued at US$30 billion.

I think he has one or two things to teach, just saying.

Work your skills better, know yourself and your workforce, and know how to manage and approach problems.

If it is too hard or impossible for you, find someone that thinks that it’s easy.

If you want to make your hour worth more, delegate intelligently.

2. If you want to overcome obstacles you have to be adaptable

I believe the most important skill to acquire the true ownership, thus being a entrepreneur, is to be adaptable.

In the New York Times bestselling book The 50th Law by Robert Greene and Curtis James Jackson III, there is a very interesting section that talks about turning adversity into opportunity. Honestly, making money is all about that.

When my father, also a businessman, figured out I was copying homework, he decided to ground me.

He was always very strict, and he loved long and arduous penalties so he wanted to take what was most  important to me: my time.

With the purpose of teaching me that people have responsibilities, he decided to oblige me to do a certain amount of daily home tasks.

Since it was a very, very long term grounding he also chose to pay me a few cents per task to teach me the concept of wage. Our maid was supposed to be the supervisor since she was there all day long and made sure that I did what I was supposed to.

Poor him; I was very aware of that, and as a matter of fact I was very ahead in that concept.

If I did all tasks that I was supposed to I would make around 20% of a minimum wage by that time. Maids back in those days made around one minimum wage in Brazil.

So I approached my maid to talk about the grounding. That lady didn’t like my father since he was a blunt and cold person, and especially with employees he was often rude, so I had the upper hand to deal with the situation.

All the things that I had to do were by definition  things that she did anyways, normal tasks as a full-time maid. So I explained to her everything and I offered half of my earning of the grounding, which represented 10% raise for her.

Of course I was accepting a great risk of my maid getting really offended and telling everything to my father. That would definitely lead to physical punishment, which was quite common, but I had to make that move otherwise I would jeopardize my whole operation.

She accepted with no second thoughts, and I was making around 10% of a minimum wage without doing any work.

Want to keep winning? Think outside the box.

If you know when to play bold moves, you can win big.

Play wisely.

And if you don’t agree with that, by the way, Curtis James Jackson III is also called 50 cent. He thinks outside the box and Forbes says that he has US$ 140 million reasons to make you listen.

3. If you want to be the first you have to discover your way

If you want to go where nobody has gone before, you have to find new ways.

If you want to do things that nobody has done before, you have to innovate.

It is pure logic, it is undeniable.

So I had a problem going on, the trading card games weren’t getting more popular, therefore the market was no longer expanding and the continuously growing competition was affecting my earnings.

I had to do something about that. I was around 15-16 by that time and there was a new trend: gym supplements.

It was a brand new trend. The supplements were very hard to find and lack of information led people to often say they were steroids.

That’s pretty much saying that milk extract is a steroid.

But ok, considering all of that it was a very risky product and market. Going to the gym wasn’t a thing here, and nobody wanted to buy supplement. Not yet.

I was observing the leading market, USA, and how it was growing there and I kept watching.

One year later there was a boom. Gyms were everywhere, people started to ask about supplements, and a demand was starting to show.

Lucky me, I was selling it for one year already, one rough year, but then my beliefs were right and like many other things Brazil caught up with another American trend. Suddenly what I used to make in one year I was making in one month.

The lesson is: Think outside the box. There’s a shiny world out there.

4. If you want people to trust you, you have to know what you’re talking about

Personally, I always hated language classes.

I never understood why I had to know that things as doors, cars, elephants and guns are called nouns and they describe things. Now when we talk about nice, angry and fast, those are adjectives and they show qualities and features of things. Useless and beaurocratic.

If you asked me, in high school, to explain all that stuff, it would be a major mess, a stuttering chaos. It would take me so many words to say practically nothing.

I’m a math admirer. I studied computer engineering and I started programming computer languages really early so I always understood what to use and where. I could see how all the things worked and what they were used for.

When I talked about physics, math and chemistry, people would listen. My friends used to want to study with me for the respective tests.

I sounded like an authority in the subject.

Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, said in one of his sale strategies trainings that his capacity of making a sale where someone just failed was strongly based on trust. On sounding like an authority.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

– Albert Einstein.

Firing blanks makes a lot of noise and may scare your target at the first moment. But remember, it won’t take your target down and it will ruin your reputation.

In Brazil they say: “Barker dogs don’t bite.”

5. You don’t need to know everything to run the show

Later on, when I was in Law School, I took a class that taught people how to sound like lawyers. It took six months to learn one simple concept: It doesn’t matter what are you saying, it matters how.

I had three supplements stores, and I tried very hard to explain to people about deep nutrition concepts and how to make them achieve what they wanted through information.

But they didn’t want information. They wanted to feel. They wanted hope. They wanted a way.

Within time I’ve learned that when I was bold, concise and I never found myself drawing a blank, people bought whatever I said they should.

So there were times that new products came in. I didn’t know deeply about them, but I took them and saw the results and knew the major active ingredients.

With that, even though superficially, I could make people to trust me to take it.

That was enough.

In order to run something really well, you have to be a specialist.

In order to supervise a lot of things very well, you have to be a generalist.

But don’t fool yourself; there is more to studying about a little bit of everything than everything of one single subject.

Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. In a long term trial, both customers and employees started to build a stronger relationship with me. They ended up trusting me, not simply obeying or taking a chance.

If you want to lead, do that by attitude. If nobody knows, you have to be the first to do so.


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