The Five Dollar Challenge

Starting your own business isn’t easy, I think most would agree with that. As Shark Tank star Lori Greiner once said “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” What she means is, entrepreneurs and business owners would much rather put in long hours building their own business, rather than fulfilling someone else’s mission. This is why Lyndale Financial exists today.

However, one thing that most people get wrong when thinking of entrepreneurship is the money side of things. When I hear someone say they have a great business idea, but don’t have the money to either launch their business or quit their day job, my heart sinks a little. They are missing the point. In today’s world, there are countless opportunities to start a business without any need for an initial investment. My favorite book on the topic, Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau, shows you step by step how to create your own business with little to no money, while maintaining your day job.

Students at Stanford University were asked ‘What would you do to earn money if all you had was five dollars and two hours?’ These students were allowed to spend as much time as they wanted planning their business idea, but once they opened their envelope containing the five dollars, they only had two hours to make as much money as they could. The students had from the end of class Wednesday until Monday’s class to complete the assignment. Lastly, they were to give a three-minute, one-slide presentation describing what they had done on Monday.

Think about how you would approach this situation. Would you take the five dollars to buy a lottery ticket? Would you use the money to buy materials to start a lemonade stand? These are some easy fall back answers, but would you be able to start a real business with so little money and time? Check out the results of some of these Stanford students.

The most successful teams quickly realized that the five dollars was simply a distraction from the bigger task at hand, they didn’t even need money! They used their planning time to think of a problem in their community and used their talents to provide a service. One of the teams set up a stand at their student union offering to measure bike tire pressure for free. If the tires needed to be filled up, they would do so for $1. They provided a solution to a problem, at an affordable price, in a convenient location. The team ended up making a few hundred dollars in just two hours.

What about the winning team? They brought home a whopping $650. How did they do it? They took the project one step further, by not paying attention to the five dollars available OR the two hour time frame. They realized that their most valuable asset was the one-slide presentation they were to give on Monday to a classful of Stanford students. The team sold the one-page slide to a local business that wanted to recruit Stanford students and created a three-minute commercial to present, understanding that time, attention, and access are valuable resources.

If you have always dreamt of starting your own business or side hustle, I encourage you to think about creative ways to get started. If you need to make some extra money on the side to pay off your credit card debt, boost your retirement savings, or take a dream vacation, consider using your unique talents to make your dreams a reality.

Source: The $5 Challenge


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