The Embarrassing Beginning of My Entrepreneurial Journey

Anything is possible if your heart is in it. Nothing is worth it if your heart isn't.

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By Daniel DiPiazza


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I walked onto campus at the University of South Florida for the first time, I was deadset on becoming a doctor. On the first day of school, I proudly strutted into the registration office and declared myself PRE-MED. (I imagined the giant diploma, framed and hanging in my luxury office 10 years later...)

"You know, you don't have to decide until your sophomore year," the frumpy secretary said, unphased by my boldness.

"Ha!" I scoffed. "Why prolong the inevitable?"

Then I proceeded to flunk Chemistry 101.

It was one of those huge lecture hall classes where you sit in a giant half dome with desks that look like bleacher seats, while the professor rattles mindlessly from a huge projector hooked to her laptop.

I had to use a handheld remote buzzer (which came with our $279 Chemistry book...) to signal my attendance. More than a few times, I had a friend take my buzzer to class for me while I stayed home. It wasn't a very good system to keep students engaged.

Related: If You're Not Course-Correcting, You're Not Taking Enough Risks

Truth was, I hated chemistry. It didn't interest me and, no surprise, I wasn't good at it.

I think what bothered me the most about that class wasn't just the complexity of the work or the lack of help/attention I received. The main issue was that I didn't see how what I was doing in that class affected the larger picture of my life.

In my head, I heard: "If you can't get through a basic science class on the way to your destination, you're not going to make it through four more years of this plus eight years of med school! You're an idiot!"

So just like that, the prospect of med school was bleak. By the end of freshman year, I knew I wouldn't become a doctor.

I felt empty. No idea what I wanted to do, or who I was, really. I was getting anxious and agitated about my path.

At the same time, I was outgrowing my ~4 year relationship with my high school sweetheart, Ashley. So, with no good plan, I decided to just up and leave. I spent the next few semesters in Greece "studying abroad" and trying to figure things out. A cliche choice, I know, but it worked out.

Related: 10 Mind-Blowing Travel Destinations for Adventure Junkies

Greece was the first time I got to see outside of myself and interact with different cultures. Traveling all over Europe and the Middle East earned me the seasoned confidence that comes from successfully navigating an environment where you don't speak the language or look the part.

I had a few different "awakenings" in Greece -- but my overall takeaway was this: You can pursue whatever goal you want.

You don't have to feel tied down by the idea of somebody else's profession. You don't need to feel scared that things won't work out. You can literally just decide what you want to do…and do it.

I got back to the States with no plan, but a bit more confident that things would probably work out for me. I started thinking big. Really big. Bigger than ever before.

I had no idea what was to come, and the Rich20Something of today was still years away...But I knew there was a path, if I created one.

This is all about the journey.

Read my words and find yourself in them. You'll begin to understand that it's OK if you have no idea what you're doing. You'll start to realize that almost nobody really knows.

Everyone is just trying to find themselves and make the best of our time here.

There are steps you can take to make sure that even if you don't know where you're going, you always end up in the right place.

At the end of the day, starting an online business is relatively simple:

  • Determine something that people want.

  • Find the people who want that thing.

  • Ask them if they'd like to buy.

It can be a physical product, a service you offer, or just information. Doesn't really matter.

Online business is not some weird thing. It's not a scammy thing. It's how business has always worked, just using a different medium. And remember, the message is always more important than the medium.

People go to jobs so that they can make money to buy the things they want. Why wouldn't they buy something from you? If you're ready to start your entrepreneurial journey, you won't have to travel to Greece like I did, or spend years working at a job that makes you feel dead inside.

Related: How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries

You can start right now by changing your mindset. You must recognize your skills and experiences as bankable resources worth paying for. Learn to package your knowledge and attract people to what you have to offer. You can help the world by providing people with valuable skills...and you can help yourself by making money from what you already know.

If you're ready to make the jump, I recommend you check out my debut book, Rich20Something. It's not some boring spiel on "paying your dues"'s about hustle. Instead of inching your way up the traditional career ladder, I teach you how to hack it, sharing hard-earned advice, anecdotes from other entrepreneurial badasses and step-by-step techniques for turning your best skills into a business you're passionate about (that pays well to boot).

Daniel DiPiazza

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer


Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Alpha Mentorship and the director of the Profit Paradigm accelerator for agency owners.

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