The team at Amazing.com just sent a crew to interview me and give you my advice on how to become a successful entrepreneur.
And as you’ll see, for me that goes way beyond making some extra money.
In fact, if you want to know the main reason why I’ve been able to grow my businesses to over 8 figures just read the first 4 sentences of my interview.
But know this: If you stop there, you’ll be missing out on how I’ve stayed successful in an industry that’s always changing.
How did you get to where you are today?
Like most of you, I’ve played many roles in my life.
I was raised on an alternative lifestyle commune where the goal was to have successful relationships.
The reason I start here is because I believe that my success in business boils down to my success at relating to other people.
My ability to sell is my ability to communicate how good my offer is.
The longer answer is this: I moved to New York when I was 18 to play poker for a living.
I was pretty good and I was making decent money doing it, but eventually I outgrew the lifestyle.
(You can imagine sitting in a room all night surrounded by a bunch of guys and staring into fluorescent lights.)
It stopped being the life I wanted, so I decided to go straight and I took a job at a yoga studio.
The real reason I took that specific job, though, was to get to know the gal who taught there (and who later become my wife).
So there I was, working 80 hours a week at a yoga studio, and that’s where I really started to understand something fundamental to entrepreneurs: their motivation.
I believe that most entrepreneurs, when they’re getting started, are chasing some kind of freedom: financial freedom, time freedom, freedom of location, etc.
They want something more than what their current circumstance is offering them.
And for me that was working from home, spending time with my wife—doing the things in my life that I considered valuable, rather than being stuck at my job.
This is when, like most of you, I started moonlighting my first business.
I’d work all day, then come home and spend two or three hours a night on my entrepreneurial hustle.
It was 2004-2005, and it was a good time to be getting into ecommerce. But this was long before there were courses to teach me, so I read online forums.
This was the humble beginning of my role as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Here’s my biggest piece of advice to you if you want to become an online entrepreneur:
Don’t give up.
You will experience setbacks. It will be tough. But the secret is consistency and steady pressure.
Here’s just a short list of all the waves of ecommerce I’ve had to navigate through: Google Ad sense, search engine optimization, drop shipping, private labeling…
There have been all these waves which have either made people successful or not, but the key for the people who are really making it is to show up every single day.
The next best advice I have for you is this: Find a mentor.
Find one or two people who you are going to follow, and consume all the content they have.
Take all of their advice—everything they’ve got—and apply it.
Don’t be a generalist. You want to pick one or two things to specialize in and that’s it, because if you get really good at one thing then other things will fall into place.
What freedoms has entrepreneurship given you?
Initially, entrepreneurship was just a lot of extra work.
But then there came this time that every entrepreneur goes through.
And you will go through this, too.
It’s when you get to make the jump and quit your full time job.
You’re not sure if it’s going to work, you know you’re not making enough money, but you hope the extra attention on your side hustle is going to do it for you.
And you must be ready to take that jump when the opportunity comes.
There have been many freedoms that entrepreneurship afforded me, one of which is financial.
But here’s the thing about money: it can only buy you comfort, not happiness.
Time freedom, location freedom, the freedom to relate with whomever you want—these things may lead to happiness, but at the end of the day these are comforts.
For me, what entrepreneurship has really afforded me is opportunity.
For example, I now have 40 employees working for me in my business. More than half of them are family members, and the other half are friends and friends of friends.
I’ve been able to create this network of people whom I love already and get to spend a lot of time with—which is important because we’re working a lot.
It’s also allowed me the opportunity to relate with tens of thousands of people through my website SmartMarketer.com which is something I value very deeply.
So above all of the stuff entrepreneurship has given me, the thing I find most important is the freedom to choose where I put my own energy.
Who inspires you?
I get so much inspiration from my wife.
She is so loving, so passionate, so focused, and so willing to do the things it takes to live the life that she wants.
And she doesn’t have it in her mind that in order for her to get the things out of life that she wants, that other people can’t get what they want, too.
That’s because she believes that we can all win if we put enough of our energy into making mutual success a priority.
There is so much for us to be inspired by in this world that the question really becomes “Are you willing to be inspired and acknowledge these people as inspiring?”
It’s a choice you have to make.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
It means being willing to take risks and be responsible for something other than yourself.
They say that with great power comes great responsibility, but I think the reverse is more true:
With great responsibility comes great power.
I’m responsible for the salary of 40 employees. I get power from that, because I get 40 people’s time.
I’ve found that the more responsibility you’re willing to take for you life and your situation, the more power you have.
How have you incorporated giving back into your business?
I actually believe that giving is profitable.
My entire business strategy is based on this idea of permaculture, or leveraging everything you have to its greatest benefit.
I have ecommerce businesses that do really well, and so we take what works and we document them for other business owners to learn from, and that’s what fuels Smart Marketer.
SmartMarketer.com exists to provide this useful information and open source my success.
We give away some information for free, or we sell it in order to put that money back into the business, so we can again share new information.
My tag line is Serve the World Unselfishly and Profit, because I believe the only way to be successful is to be in the service of other people.
Otherwise, you may have some hustle that becomes a flash in the pan, but you won’t profit for a long period of time if you aren’t adding value to people’s lives.
So that’s my goal as an entrepreneur: to give people something truly valuable and profit at the same time.
0:10 Where did Ezra come from?
0:50 How did he get here?
2:19 Ezra’s best advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
3:15 Mastery is the key to success
3:30 Entrepreneurship and Freedom
4:02 You must be willing to take the leap
5:23 Who is Ezra inspired by?
6:23 The meaning of Entrepreneurship
7:05 Giving back through Business
8:25 You can only give from Surplus
Click Here For Video Transcript
And I think really my success in business has boiled down to my ability to relate with other people and communicate with other people. But I think in a greater sense, in life in general, and whatever you’re doing, it comes down to your ability to communicate. Your ability to sell is your ability to communicate how good your offer is. Your ability to get in the door places is your ability to communicate your value to those people.
So how did I get here? So I moved to New York when I was 18 years old to play poker for a living. That was great. I did really well at it, but it’s a degenerative lifestyle. You’re under fluorescent lights, you’re with a bunch of guys, there’s no women around. I didn’t really like that, and I wanted to go straight.
So I took a job at a yoga studio, where I met my now wife. She was my yoga teacher. I took the job because I knew she taught there, and I was like, “I need to figure out a way to be around this girl more often.” And I worked 80 hours a week at this yoga studio, and it was tough. And I think that ultimately people who become entrepreneurs do so because they’re chasing some form of freedom, financial freedom, time freedom, freedom of location. They want something more than whatever is their current circumstance.
And so for me, I wanted to be able to work from home, and spend time with my wife, and do things in the world that I considered to be valuable rather than just being stuck at this job. And so I started my first business sort of moonlight, where I worked all day. And then I had my entrepreneurial hustle that I worked on for a couple of hours, which happens to be the wig business that I told the story about.
If you’re watching this in the amazing.com membership, I told a little funny story about the wig business. You just go check out. But anyways, I got into e-commerce at the right time. E-commerce was just coming up. And then in 2004, 2005 and I got in. At that time there weren’t courses like this. There weren’t memberships like this. There were forums. So I started doing that, and one thing led to another, and here I am.
The advice I would have for you, if you’re following in my footsteps trying to become an online entrepreneur, is not to give up. You will experience setbacks and that’s going to be tough, but the secret is consistency, it’s steady pressure. I’ve seen waves. It was Google AdSense, it was Search Engine Optimization, it was drop shipping, it was private labeling, there’s been all these sort of waves that have had people be successful or not successful. Things you could do to get successful online. But the key, the people who are really making it are the ones who show up every single day.
The next thing I would suggest is find a mentor, find amazing.com membership, one person or a couple of people who you’re going to follow. Consume all of their content. Don’t just take a few people here, take a few people there. Pick one or two people and get everything they’ve got. Take all of their advice. Apply it. Talk to them about what you’re doing. Really invest in one avenue.
Don’t be a shotgun all over the place. Just pick one thing and really specialize in it because the key to success is mastery. It’s getting good at one thing. Not being a generalist. Having one thing that you get really good at. Now, of course, you wanna do everything, but if you’re really great at one thing, other things fall into place.
Entrepreneurship has given me a lot of freedoms. Now, initially, entrepreneurship was just like extra work. It was like, “I’m working all day, and now I’m being an entrepreneur who’s not really making much money.” And there sort of came this time, and this will happen to you as well. There’s this time where you get to make the jump, where you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to work out, but you quit your full time job, and you’re not really making enough to support yourself, but you’re hoping that extra energy that you’re putting into your hustle or your business is going to do it for you.
There’s always gonna be that like, “When do I take the leap?” And you’ve got to be willing to take that leap when that opportunity comes. So I’ve got a lot of freedom now.
Now, the interesting thing about money. Entrepreneurship has afforded me to have a lot more money. And what’s interesting about money is it actually does not buy you happiness. Money can’t buy you happiness. Happiness does not come from having things. Money can buy you comfort. You can buy a certain level of comfort.
Now, they did this study. Once you’re over $75,000 a year in this economy in America, if you’re in America, then you don’t get any happier with how much money you make. You may be able to get time freedom, location freedom, the freedom to relate with whoever you want, and that stuff could lead to happiness, but at the end of the day, money doesn’t buy you happiness, it buys you comfort.
So for me, entrepreneurship has afforded me a lot of opportunities. For example, I have 40 employees in my business. More than half of them are family members, friends, friends of friends, cousins, and brothers. So I’ve been able to create this sort of network of people who I love already and get to spend my time with because you spend a lot of time working.
It’s afforded me the ability to relate with, and communicate with, and touch a lot of people’s lives through new.smartmarketer.com, which is my website where I document and share what I’m doing. So it’s afforded me, given me, I think was the question, a lot of stuff. My favorite of which is the ability to choose where I put my energy.
Who inspires me? My wife. She is so loving, so joyous, so focused, and so willing to just do what it takes to get what she wants and have things the way she wants. And she doesn’t have it that in order to have what you want, what she wants, that other people can’t get what they want. She’s got it that we can all win if we put enough time and energy into figuring out what would be winning…how she can have what she wants, and I can have what I want, or everyone else can have what they want at the same time.
I think I’m inspired by books, I’m inspired by thought leaders, I’m inspired all over the place. Everyone is, I mean it’s sort of not probably the answer you were looking for, but I think inspiration is around us at all times if we’re willing to see it. You can be inspired by nature, by a flower, by a person. There’s so much inspiration available to you. The question is, are you looking for that inspiration? Are you willing to acknowledge that thing or that person or that object as inspiring? It’s a choice.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to me? It means being willing to take risks. Being willing to be responsible for more than just yourself. So they say with great power comes great responsibility. But if you flip that around, the reverse is more true. With great responsibility comes great power. The more responsibility you’re willing to take, you’re willing to, “Hey I’m responsible for paying 40 people’s paycheck,” you get power out of that. You get 40 people’s time.
The more that you’re willing to take responsibility for your life and your situation, the more power you have. So for me, being an entrepreneur means taking responsibility for myself, for those around me, for my business, for my life.
How have I incorporated giving back into my businesses? I actually think that giving is profit for me. So it’s interesting. I’ll give you my business model. It’s permaculture. If you’re familiar with the concept of permaculture, it’s kind of generally just leveraging everything that you have to its greatest benefit.
So I have e-commerce businesses, and those e-commerce businesses do really well, we put a lot of attention on them, we grow them. We then take what works there, we document it, and we share it with other people. So we sort of open source our businesses so that other business owners can benefit. We give that information for free, and we sell that information. Then we make money from selling that information and we put it back into our e-commerce businesses, which then do better, which we then document, and then we create content and sell that content. So it works hand in hand.
And I think that any good business…my tagline in business for smart marketer anyways is serve the world unselfishly and profit. Because I think the only way to truly profit is to be in service of other people. And if you’re not in service of other people, you won’t profit for that long. You might have some hustle that might work for a while or some crap that’s gonna be a flash in the pan, but in order to actually have a profitable venture, you have to be in service of some group of people.
And so what I’m looking for in my businesses is how I can be of service, and then also monetize that because here’s the interesting thing. You can only give from surplus. I cannot give to you what I don’t have extra. I can’t give you food that I don’t have that’s extra. You can only truly give from your own surplus. So I am creating lots of surplus for myself so that I have surplus to give back. I’m creating this lifestyle. I’m creating all this stuff so that I’m in a position to be able to give.
If I was burned out, spending all my time working myself to the ground in my business, I wouldn’t have the energy for Smart Marketer, to share what I’m doing. So what I’m saying is that at the end of the day, the nicest thing you can do for yourself, everyone around you, and your business, and the most profitable thing you can do is take care of yourself so thoroughly that you have surplus energy, surplus time, and surplus whatever it is to give to other people. And if you’re not well taken care of you can’t do that.
So this concept of giving what you don’t have doesn’t actually work. It works to give what you have surplus of. And so what I do is create surplus, document what’s working, give that to business owners, monetize that so that I have money to invest back in my business so I can document more. So it’s a win, win, win thing going. Ezra Firestone for amazing.com. Check me out at new.smartmarketer.com. Thanks for watching.