I’ve been there too. Sitting at my dining room table, pouring over months of bills that I couldn’t pay, statements from maxed out credit cards, and bank accounts that were rapidly dwindling down to zero. I had walked the prescribed road — I worked hard, I got an education, I didn’t squander my youth in hedonistic revelry. I was well-educated, possessing a BA in economics and an MBA. I had a good job as a vice principal and a salary that topped $70,000, a wife, children, a house — I had what was supposed to be “it all,” but it just wasn’t working. 

After years of trepidly watching my credit and debit card balances everyday, I began questioning myself: “I am a hard worker, what is wrong with me? Why is the system failing me?” I was making a living but I wasn’t living. I had $89 in my checking account and not even two grand in savings — but $25,000 in credit card bills and back mortgage payments that just kept piling up. I had paid my dues, put in my time, but I wasn’t reaping the rewards I knew I deserved. Something had to change. 

So I started doing what many of us would do in such a situation: I began looking online for a side hustle. I signed up for all the programs, took the courses, read the blogs, tried e-commerce, affiliate programs, and even envelope stuffing, but it all ended up being the same old get rich quick schemes. And they all failed. 

Then I saw a Facebook ad that changed my life forever. The image was of a pair of upturned hands beneath the words “Hard workers wanted.” I figured I would give it one last try. I clicked on the ad and it led me to a webpage for a course that taught me an entirely new system for making money, which I applied full-tilt. To my surprise, it worked — I began making money and soon found myself back on top of my life. 

This experience led me, together with my partner Jason McKim, to the creation of a new entrepreneurial system which aims to bridge the chasm between local businesses and prospective customers. By year two of applying this system I was making $300,000 and decided to dive in full-time. Today, I’m making high seven figures annually, and have started sharing the methods that I use with others who are starting out from the same place I was all those years ago when I was struggling to make ends meet. 

Along the way, I learned these following five lessons — my antidote for the poison of financial stagnancy: 

1. Beware of false gurus

Realize that finding the right path can be very hard. Anyone who tells you that building an online business is easy is full of crap. Don’t look for gurus, look for people who practice what they preach. Be sure to give them the “business sniff test”: audit them to find out if they are legit or a scam before offering them your trust and money. 

2. Don’t make it complicated

While starting your own online business from scratch is rarely easy, it doesn’t have to be expensive and have a high barrier to entry. Aim for something that doesn’t require advanced technical knowledge that you can initially do as a side hustle while you’re still working your day job. Ease into your new business slowly, initially aiming to make around $1,000 per month and then scale that up into something you can do full-time and leave the world of wage-slavery behind. 

3. Build monthly recurring income

Having a business where you receive monthly income from your clients is far better than selling your service as a “one and done” product. I teach my students how to become bridges between local businesses and their customers, and they get paid each and every month for their services. Be the platform through which businesses can gain more customers, like an AirBNB or Uber. 

4. Find business that are asking for your help

Sell what businesses are already seeking to buy. All businesses, regardless of size, are looking for ways to bring in more customers, and many of them are raising their hands, virtually begging for your help (even if they don’t know it yet). There’s 29 million businesses in the US alone, and every business needs customers, every business needs to advertise, and most business owners don’t have the time or the desire to learn how to do this themselves. This is where you come in.

5. Utilize the “Baby Yoda” strategy 

Start slow and easy. First, offer an initial service for a small fee to prove your worth and then scale that initial commitment by offering additional services. Get your initial deals by offering something simple, such as positive reviews on Google Maps and social media, and then make additional deals on top of this which can add up to thousands of dollars per month. If you’re making your clients money why wouldn’t they want to do more business with you? 

Conclusion: Harness your inner superpower

Your superpower is being able to help businesses get customers out of thin air. You should aim to provide them with amazing value while also getting rewarded for that value. 

The opportunity to get the life that you deserve is right in front of you, all you have to do is reach out and seize it. Don’t let the poison of financial despair ruin you. Drink the antidote.