Going From Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur — A Challenge


This week will be Entrepreneurship Week on this blog.

To start us off, this post is a benevolent kick in the ass. I’ll preface the kick with something I wrote in The 4-Hour Workweek:

For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.

But talk is cheap, isn’t it? That’s the whole point, so let’s get to the action.


In 2009, Tobias Lutke, CEO of Shopify, and I developed the Build-A-Business Competition to transform would-be entrepreneurs into real entrepreneurs. Now in its 4th year, the competition has created more than 15,000 businesses that have sold more than $60 million in product (!).

Several readers of this blog — first-time business owners — have ended up generating millions of dollars each… some as side gigs to their full-time jobs! A few examples generated $250,000+ per month.

You don’t need need experience, and you don’t need a bunch of money. You just need to take the leap: join the competition, decide on your product category, listen to advice from mentors and fellow competitors, and sell the hell out of your product. That’s it.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
– Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Intangible products can also be sold in the competition, including digital downloads, services, and subscriptions. Make sure you check out the Shopify App Store (apps.shopify.com) for tons of great plugins.

This year’s competition is in partnership with Huffington Post, so there will be even more PR and exposure. Past participants have been featured in everything from Fast Company to The New York Times.

Who are your mentors? These killers, thrillers, and 100-dollar billers:

** Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post)
** Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks, Shark Tank)
** Daymond John (FUBU, Shark Tank)
** Chase Jarvis (Photographer, Director)
** Tina Eisenberg (Swissmiss, CreativeMornings)
** Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library, Vaynermedia)
** Selita Ebanks (Victoria’s Secret Angel, Cause Marketer)
** Lil’ Jon (DJ & Producer)
** Amber Mac (TV Host, Author)
** Tim Ferriss (Angel Investor, Bearclaw Eater, Author: The 4-Hour Workweek)

The Build-A-Business competition runs from October 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014, with each of the mentors providing exclusive advice and guidance along the way. In addition to $50,000 cash prizes, the nine competition winners will receive an expenses-paid VIP trip for two to New York City to meet their mentors. It’s one hell of a party. The competition is open to people in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Click here for full details.

Time to explore entrepreneurship, don’t you think? If not now, when? What’s stopping you? Let us know in the comments, and maybe we (including other readers) can help.


Odds and Ends Elsewhere:

4-Hour Chef for Whaaaa?!?:
$35 retail for less than $15? Yes, my friends. New coupon–get an additional $5 off the full-color hardcover of The 4-Hour Chef. Here it is.

Posted on: September 16, 2013.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

108 comments on “Going From Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur — A Challenge

  1. Thank-you thank-you thank-you for writing this. I needed this kick in the pants. I’m currently in that ‘holy crap holy crap holy crap’ phase where one gets themselves totally psyched out before they even launch anything. AKA terrified to pull the trigger. But I’m clicking on the link above to sign up anyway the minute I’m done writing this comment.

    Thanks for all the knowledge and encouragement you pass on! It is profoundly appreciated.


  2. I have always wanted to start my own business. As an American living in Europe I am always worried about the tax implications. Any advice for an American starting a business abroad?


  3. Great article, just what I needed today! I guess too many ideas, got 2 months to make something crack before our son is born and finances are out. Half way meeting our monthly expenses online, just need to get the other half in before then. I guess I don’t full believe I can which sucks but articles like this help with this ;-)


  4. For me, I never really achieved what I wanted to after uni, had plans to make a 4 hour workweek style muse since graduating. It’s been a few months now and I really need to get my butt in gear and do something. I think this kinda think will make a good deadline to get something done and go after my dreams.


  5. I did a year in Afghanistan as a contractor to do the entrepreneur thing. I wanted to build up some money so I could do it. Shopify was super simple and I’m hoping to move a lot of units soon!

    Areas I need help:

    Best way to advertise.
    How do you advertise/market without being a sleaze ball.


  6. This is incredible. At the very least, the video is inspiring and should build some motivation within you. I must say it took me nearly 6 years to finally take the steps Tim suggested in 4HHW… and I’m glad I did. This is your chance to take a leap too!

    Take these entrepreneur’s advice and do something.



    A little more:
    I started my company about 5 months ago (with a class called Coding for Entrepreneurs on Udemy/Kickstarter) and now I am on track to do a little over 200k in my first year. The principals in 4HWW can 100% be applied and are still very relevant to this day.

    Remember this:

    Henry Ford didn’t invent the car
    Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent a online social network
    Mark Cuban didn’t invent broadcasting
    Apple did not invent the smartphone or the multi-touch screen or the mp3 player.

    Invention does not equal success.

    Do Different.



  7. Even after reading the 4 Hour Work Week, I’ve had multiple ideas roll around my head that I just can’t seem take the first step on. I re-read it the other day and I still feel this hang up.

    When it comes to choosing a product to sell, which is a better choice: a passion project that is near and dear, or a product that you would gladly hand the reigns over to someone else after conception?

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!


  8. Hey Tim,

    I remember this competition from last year, I love it!

    And this year I want to give the winning entrepreneur some bonus too – my services. I’m thinking: professional logo design + business card design + something else: letterhead, or flyer, or social media backgrounds and covers, etc).

    Can you point me in the right direction how I can add my services to the winner’s prize pool? (Here’s my site so you know that I’ve build quite a good reputation for my company: LittleGuyLogos.com … I help the little guys, hence my interest in this entrepreneurship competition)

    Thank you!


    • Hey! I love you guys!!!! I saw your Kickstarter when it first came out. So true there is nothing “edgy” and cool in the kids costume market. Too many pirates. I’ll be sure to share your new website on my Facebook business page.