Success

Gary Vaynerchuk: Entrepreneurial Success Isn't What You Think

There is no easy money. Remember that.
Gary Vaynerchuk: Entrepreneurial Success Isn't What You Think
Image credit: Brian Gove | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Serial Entrepreneur, Content Creator, Avid Learner
8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Want to be an entrepreneur, start your own company and be a millionaire? Ninety-nine percent of the people who answer "yes" will fail. So if this is your dream, what are you doing right now to turn that dream into a reality? The world we live in has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. The way we work, the way we play and the way we view success has all changed, especially for the younger generations. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive like never before, but it isn’t what you might think. While the youth of today want success more than ever, most people go about it all wrong and end up failing.

Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and CEO of VaynerMedia, recently appeared as a guest on Breaking into Startups podcast to give his insight on the future of our economy and how young generations can turn it around and live their dreams.

Today’s distorted reality: We are doing it all wrong.

What we see on reality shows and social media is deceiving. Overnight successes are displayed as if it is the norm. Living a luxurious life without working seems to be becoming the new dream reality. And to go along with that, the new “thing” right now is starting a business. It is the sexy thing to do. People today are graduating high school and instead of going to college, going to grad school or saving for retirement, they want to start a million-dollar business. They want to be the next entrepreneur blowing up the Facebook newsfeed, yet they don’t know what is involved to actually get there.

“Starting a company has become standard, and I think that is insane and scary. It is like going to the NBA is standard,” Gary explains. Over 99 percent of startups fail. It is extremely hard to build a big business. According to Gary, 99 percent of people don’t have the ability or skill to build a business that makes a million-dollar profit. The bottom line is that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, because it is a lot of work.

While TV and social media may make it seem like overnight success is a real thing, talking to any successful entrepreneur will shed light on the true story: the failures, the years of making no money, the time spent learning. Running a successful online business isn’t something you can learn in a classroom. “It’s like sports. You can read books about how to play basketball all day long, but until you get out on the court, you don’t have a clue.”

So while the youth of today talk about being ambitious, they either lack the dedication it takes to go the long haul or have been given the wrong impression of what it takes to succeed. And this is why so many fail.

Related: Why More One-Person Businesses Are Breaking $1 Million In Revenue

The future of million-dollar online businesses.

Facebook and Uber are the hottest things around, and they were created by “kids.” There will probably always be new technologies and cool businesses popping up created by younger generations, but a very intriguing market of million-dollar entrepreneurs is predicted to make an appearance in the near future. And they may surprise you.

Gary predicts that people who are in their 60s and 70s who have lived with the internet for over 20 years will be building online businesses that turn a million-dollar profit. They will be the majority rather than those in their 20s. Why? Because unlike the younger generations who believe they know it all, this genre of people actually do. They have lived. They have worked and seen the way the world operates. They know what problems need solving because they have lived through those problems. They also understand the internet, and this makes them more likely to succeed.

“I have this great idea. Why not turn a retirement home into an incubator -- like a Facebook campus? These people are in the game, and they are going to live to 110 or 115 because of it.”

Related: How Older Entrepreneurs Can Turn Age to Their Advantage

The not-so-bright future of our economy.

Debt has a way of killing dreams. People go into debt as a way to build the fantasy life they see others living on TV or posting about on social media. Unfortunately, the math doesn’t make sense. And when basic math doesn’t make sense, the economy is in trouble.

Way too many young kids are living well outside their means. Gary gives an example: “When a college grad is $213,000 in debt, has a job that pays $84,000 salary and is still able to borrow $500,000 to buy an apartment, it is over.” He predicts that college debt will break our economy in the next five years much the same way the housing crisis did in 2008.

The education landscape has evolved over the past five decades. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, vocational skills taught students very specific skills that were used daily at their jobs. As colleges became the big thing, they built a brand around being the “American dream.” But so many people today now understand that they use so few of the skills and knowledge they learned in their four-plus years of college … yet many are still paying off the debt they racked up while attending that college learning the knowledge they never use.

When the pendulum swings the other way, colleges will have to rebrand just as the banks had to do after the housing crisis. And parents will stop sending their kids to college. College debt will bring down our economy, and it isn’t far off.

Related: Why You Should Care About Student Loan Debt

There is no easy money.

A few people win the lottery or inherit fortunes, but outside that extremely small percentage of people, money doesn’t typically land in your lap. There is a myth going around that you can be a millionaire and not have to work for it. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true.

A lot of people are starting businesses, going into debt doing so and then losing it all when their business fails. After all, 99 percent of startups fail because people do it wrong.

But that doesn’t have to be your story. There are going to be successful, millionaire entrepreneurs in the future, and you could be one of them.

What is the right way to get there? In Gary’s opinion, kids who want to build businesses must have a humble start. “Kids should go work for someone for free. Eat shit for the first 5-10 years. Get in front of the best person you can manage. Watch. Learn.” And then take what you learned and build a business in your 30s and 40s. This is when you’ll succeed.

“People complain. People whine. And the problem with these people is that they need to work. I think people are unbelievably soft to the ambition coming out of their mouths.”

“I want you to win.” Gary says over and over. And this is why he is sharing what he has learned over the years with budding entrepreneurs. What Gary stresses is the importance of acquiring new skills. Go to a vocational school or a coding bootcamp to learn something useful. There is no good reason not to because there are so many options, no matter what your background may be. Hack Reactor and App Academy are graduating a new wave of software engineers who came from non-traditional backgrounds. These young graduates are getting placed in top Silicon Valley tech companies and will be well primed to start their own businesses in 10 years with the knowledge they acquire. Another example is Always Hired, which helps non-tech people get jobs in tech sales.

That is how you do it. Learn valuable skills and work for these companies. “This is how you avoid becoming a mere statistic.”

In order to build that successful business and become that million-dollar entrepreneur, work on building a foundation in your 20s and early 30s. Work for it. Understand that it does take time, and impatience will bring you down. Gary’s success didn’t begin to take shape until he was in his mid 30s. There is no easy money. Remember that.

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