The Story of the $350 Entrepreneur-Mobile

The Story of the $350 Entrepreneur-Mobile post image

Most aspiring entrepreneurs are focused on making more money. A problem with that approach is that it often leads to short term thinking.

I’ve found that when people focus less on money, and more on the underlying value they are creating, they end up being happier and doing better. Most people that I know who are ruthlessly focused on money can’t seem to figure out how to get enough.

Not having money sucks. I get it. I spent years swiping credit cards to put half-tanks of gas into my crappy car (which I had a loan on).

When I quit my day job, I was poorer than I was when I started my career. I used my big salary to get a lot of credit and act like an idiot.

Now that I’ve finally got my hands on some cash, I have experienced the most cliched reaction possible: I feel the same.

With or without the money, I’d be focused on the same thing– creating organizations that I believe are valuable.

It got me thinking: most people believe it’s money that stands between them and living the life they want. I don’t think that’s true.

People don’t live the lives they want because they prefer to be normal.

It’s tough to be weird. At the beginning, it’s exhausting.

One of the things I love about traveling around the world is seeing face to face so many different versions of what my life might have been. It frees me up to say “fuck it… I can do weird shit.”

Here’s one weird thing you can do to become an entrepreneur: you can reduce your living expenses to almost nothing. I learned from Dave Ramsey that in order to live like nobody else, you have to live like nobody else.

It’s this type of thinking that lead me to drive a $350 car.

Here’s an email I sent to my Dad back in ’09:

I know a lot of people think this kind of thing is silly. My parents sure did.

I was sure the successful guys in the business mastermind I had just joined would think I was a loser. Not so. Turns out I talked with one very successful entrepreneur about crappy cars for a while. Even though he was making tons of money, he hadn’t upgraded either.

That’s Ian and my 350 buck car, you gotta better pic of this hoopie brotha?

Here’s the thing…

Being a successful business owner is not normal.

I know some really smart people who just want to make money to fit in with a certain crowd.

These are the kind of people that make the word “opportunity” sound dirty.

I’m sure this works for some people. It doesn’t work for me.

Assume you wouldn’t make any cash in the next 3 years, but you could eat, and sleep somewhere.

What could you build that others would find valuable?



PS, also see Paul Graham.

Published on 02.24.11
  • Amen to this. We all think that having money, or being successful is some grand feeling that is different from the present. It’s not. What’s different is that along the way *a few* people have made great friends, increased their notoriety, and put attention on living more awesomely. Too bad and so long to those who didn’t.

  • Great post – we need to see more people thinking this way.

    Also, creepiest photo of Ian I’ve ever seen. Ever.

  • Dan, well said – over the years I have increased my corporate salary by 5x and it just doesn’t feel any different. I can still afford a few nice things, but can’t have everything I might want.

    I’m sticking with the corporate job until next May to take care of some family obligations, then I’m bagging the corporate job and going for it. The date is already set and the fuse is lit.

    By the way I might have you beat on worst car ever – at one point I drove a 69 Chrysler Newport that I bought from a junkyard for $175. I drove it until the frame rail rusted through and the end of the leaf spring hit the trunk lid.

  • Great message. Was talking with Nate Damm today (in person!) about round 3 of the TMBA, and we wondered how many applications you guys pulled in. Very impressed with such short notice, I imagine they’re all high quality. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

  • Hey Dan,

    Long live the $350 car! Better still, bus it everywhere, regardless of how ridiculously inconvenient. Public Transport = Reading time.

    Can you elaborate more on “Assume you wouldn’t make any cash in the next 3 years, but you could eat, and sleep somewhere” and reducing your living expenses to almost nothing please?

  • Dan

    Yeah, apparently latex gloves are what hardcore car guys wear. Weird indeed.

  • Dan

    Yeah kind of an open thought there…. my point is to get thinking about stuff you can build that the world sees as valuable if you didn’t have to think about your income. Most entrepreneurs don’t make money from their enterprises for a while so it’s helpful to think of stuff you’d want to be creating anyway. In terms of living expenses, I think most people send way more money than they need to, and it’s a shame because it often keeps them from doing the things they think are important.

  • Dan

    It was an incredible response. I’m inspired by it.

  • Dan

    Mike you’ve got me beat! I’ll be interested to follow your transition, sounds exciting for sure.

  • Dan

    haha “too bad and so long” cracks me up. I’m taking that….

  • Matt Cutts

    As a current backwards, backwards motherfucker, I salute you, sir.

  • Dan

    You’re in luck, I’m creating a 37$ ebook entitled BBMF to BAMF in 30 days. :)

  • Please make this book

  • The word “opportunity” has been sort of hijacked by the “work-at-home/mlm” crowd. The millionaire next door is a really interesting read on how those who ARE rich, don’t act like the people who are just acting like they’re rich. You should check it out.

  • “In general, I’ve found that when people focus less on money and more on the underlying value they are creating, they end up being happier and doing better.”

    Love it. Great post man.

    Fighting for my individuality is a huge reason I’m skeptical of normal employment. Not enough drive to make an impact in working for another’s company.

  • Dan

    I was actually always a really willing employee, trying to make the companies better. At a certain point, I couldn’t go any further in other people’s orgs so I had to jump ship. I’d say one great place to focus on creating value is in the right job, it’s just they are tricky to find. I’m hoping I’m providing some of those as we speak.

  • Dan

    Yeah I liked that book. I remember when I met my first business mentor, a successful entrepreneur wearing old tennis sneakers my first thought was “really?!” I didn’t really know a lot of wealthy people in real life.

  • Ian

    Yes, creepy and certainly not approved by me.

  • Dan

    Lies! I would never cross the captain.

  • NICE! As I started making more money with my business, I actually downgraded my car, a scion TC (in which was practically brand new) to a cheap 97 Celica…people were like WTF. Ironically, I liked my celica a lot more than my TC.

    Money definitely did not make me happier…changing my relationship with it did.

  • I have to agree on the low expenses thing. So many people I know, mostly college students, are constantly broke, but they can’t figure out why. Maybe if they’d bother with a super cheap car, or *gasp* no car, they’d be so much better off. But, what do I know? I only live super comfortably in a nice area with my daughter for about $600 a month. ;)

  • great post! i backed out last minute. i had my application all ready to go, but i couldnt do it. not yet anyway. i’ve decided on another long term travel plan for myself, but i certainly hope to connect with you and the tropical mba one day. even just for some brews. either here, or bali, or morocco, or who knows?! either way, thanks for the inspiration to make life happen.

  • Dan

    word to that!

  • Dan

    no problem man, see you out on the road :)

  • Dan

    Dusti thats my kind of balla numbers! to me, having my time makes me feel like a millionaire.

  • That’s a great question and I think an excellent way to find out which venture to start. The answer to that for me is what I’m going to try to make money on but I know it will take a lot of time (it won’t happen overnight) and hard work. Keep on trucking!

  • Dan

    Word it takes forever! When I figure out how to speed it up, I’ll post fo sho.

  • That’s what I love about you, frigin common sense dammit! I just left my corporate job Jan 7, been there 14 years to start something else. Best decision I ever made. My biggest hurdle is debt right now. I will figure it out.

    I love your video on “lifestyle design”. The spoof. Cool

  • Dan

    Thanks Randall :) ! Good luck with your new venture.

  • Obrien_jeffrey

    I don’t like that I fall into the other people you mention in this post…you know the ones who don’t leave their job because they make too much money, luckily its not about the money for me…I make a lot of money at a job that I don’t particularly enjoy, but don’t have to put too much time and effort into, so thats a bonus. Best part is it affords me to opportunity to spend my time doing things that I enjoy…definitely need to get the five year plan in effect though, then I can be even happier I hope!

  • Dan

    Jeff… I didn’t mention sexy mofos in this post, so no reference was made
    as far as I can tell. The kind of job you are talking about is a great kind
    of hack for entrepreneurs.

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