How To Make Your First $1,000,000

Shama Hyder:

It’s true what they say, your first million is the hardest. It’s much easier to make the second and the third because you can build on it, right? Compounding interest is very real. But your first million is challenging, especially if you start from nothing. So when I started Zen Media, I started it with $1,500 and I was 22 years old, 23, didn’t know anything about the business world. And it was a lot of learning quickly. It’s not the money that’s the exciting part at the end of the day. It’s who you become on that journey. As cliche as it sounds, it’s really important because to make a million dollars and as good as it felt, much better was looking back and seeing, wow, really having developed a lot of skills because to go from zero to a million or even 1500 bucks to a million requires a lot.

Shama Hyder:

Hey, everybody. It’s Shama Hyder. And today, I want to talk about a topic that comes up often oddly enough, especially from young people. So when I keynoted in the past at schools and so forth, someone in the audience inevitably will ask, “Have you made your first million? Or “What’s it like making your first million?” And it’s true, I made my first million by the time I was 25 and it was something I never thought I would achieve or even expected to achieve because I came to this country when I was nine years old. I was an immigrant. My parents were both blue collar workers. It was beyond my wildest dreams. And there’s certain things I’ve learned along the way. And it’s funny because I think that it’s true what they say, your first million is the hardest. It’s much easier to make the second and the third, because you can build on it, right? Compounding interest is very real.

Shama Hyder:

But your first million is challenging, especially if you start from nothing. So when I started Zen Media, I started it with $1,500. Some of you might have read that story or heard me talk about it in other venues. I started with $1,500 and I was 22 years old, 23, didn’t know anything about the business world. And it was a lot of learning very quickly. And what I find interesting is I talked to other people who also ever met that threshold is that it’s not the money that’s the exciting part at the end of the day. It’s who you become on that journey. As cliche as it sounds, it’s really important because to make a million dollars in an ethical, fair way, now there’s lots of new scam ways. There’s lot of illegal. I’m not talking about any of that.

Shama Hyder:

I’m talking about legit, good, honest, hard work, building it brick by brick, bone by bone, tears, sweat, all of it, to building a business. And so when you were doing it that way, which entrepreneurship to me is so much fun and you’re starting from nothing. So I went from nothing when I was 22, 23 to a million dollars at 25, and in fact, Business Week at that year named me one of the Top 25 Under 25 Entrepreneurs in North America. It was quite an exciting moment, but we’ll save that story for another time and I’ll share with you guys if you’d like to hear it about our tipping point. But getting that first million, as good as it felt, much better was looking back and seeing, wow, really having developed a lot of skills.

Shama Hyder:

Because to go from zero to a million or even 1500 bucks to a million requires a lot. You’ve got to learn how to communicate, how to negotiate, how to sell, how to provide value, because when you’re doing it in an ethical, solid way, and you’re wanting to run a legit enterprise, the key thing you have to realize is your value is completely dependent on the value that you add to other people, right? I’m going to repeat this because it’s so important. If you want to be a millionaire or you have any kind of goal, the value that the market puts on you as a business, as someone offering a service, is in direct correlation to the value that you bring to the marketplace. All right.

Shama Hyder:

So another way to think about this is I had to create $10 million worth of value, at least for the market to think that I, my business, was worth a million dollars. Let that sink in for a second because I think it’s important. I had to add $10 million worth of value to the marketplace. It helped other businesses make that much, if not more. But really, add that much value. When you add that much value, the market rewards you, right? The market rewards you, but you getting a percentage of the value that you’ve created. So if I went into a business and said, “Listen, you guys are doing 10 million of revenue a year. I think with these cool strategies and really enhancing your digital, you could be doing 50 million.” Right? Would that be exciting? And what do you think most companies say, “Yes, that’d be great. That would be amazing growth. We’d love to go from 10 to 50 million.”

Shama Hyder:

And so when you’re doing things like that, it’s only natural then for your market to reward you based on the value that you bring to the table. And so this is actually called… Yeah, this is really this idea around… And Alan Weiss coined it a while back in his consulting work, value-based selling, but it really applies here too because it gets to the heart of… The amount you charge is directly proportional to the value that you bring. And I want to say that again, the amount you charge, the amount someone pays you should be in direct proportion to the value that you bring. And so obviously, when you’re working at a greater scale and you can create more value, you get paid more.

Shama Hyder:

This is the funny thing. People think being a millionaire is all about creating something and getting it out there. You really have to keep supplying demand in mind too. There has to be a demand for what you’re offering and then you have to make your supply. So you have to make your offering so exciting that it stands out in suppliers. A great book I like which I recommend highly is Blue Ocean Strategy, which really talks about how you construct your own blue ocean. So in a red ocean, there’s lots of sharks, right? So think about when I started Zen Media, we were doing digital marketing, PR, new media. The sharks were advertising agencies. That’s the red ocean. It’s already very crowded. If I came out and said, “I’m going to start another advertising agency.” There’s too much supply there. And then yes, there’s demand but it’s very competitive.

Shama Hyder:

What I did when I entered the market, was I created something new, right? Zen Media was one of the first social media agencies out there. It just didn’t exist quite yet. I did my thesis on Twitter when it had 2000 people. So very, very early days. And you guys can follow me @Shama on Twitter. And in case you’re wondering, that’s how I have my first name as my Twittering handle is because I was one of the earliest users. And so creating that sort of blue ocean, creating value where it doesn’t exist. So to go to our companies, go to clients or customers and say, “Hey, we can help you in this realm. Right? We can help you with your digital.”

Shama Hyder:

In a time where really nobody was doing it, or didn’t fully understand it, we were the first to really make a dent in that space. And hence, the market rewarded us accordingly. So I will just reiterate, it’s not about the amount of money. I also think that it’s important to have a why, the why you want to get there. For me, I never thought about like a set a goal like, “Oh, I need to get to a million.” I think it was happening. It was really cool, but it was a byproduct. When you do have a goal, I think it’s important to make sure that you understanding your motivating factors and you’re motivated by something that’s deeper than impressing people.

Shama Hyder:

I was talking to a young man last week, who is starting a new company, is very excited about it. And one of the questions he kept asking me as we were discussing this was, “How quickly can I monetize this? How quickly can I make money?” And I said, “Do you mind me asking why it is that you want to make money so quickly, you want to jump to the end zone so quickly? And he said, “Well, so I can show my parents that this can be a success and that they won’t force me to go to college.” And I thought, “Well, isn’t that interesting?” It’s very hard to accomplish what you want to accomplish when it’s predicated on showing someone something, when the whole point of his accomplishment was to show his parents, to prove something to someone else. I don’t find that that has enough staying power to get you to your goals.

Shama Hyder:

And here’s the funny thing, even if he accomplishes this, let’s say he shows his parents this, or whoever he wants to impress, it’s very likely that they could turn around and say, “Ah, yes, but can you sustain it for five years?” “Ah, but this is still a fad.” I mean there are people out there who still think the internet is a fad. They think social media is a fad. There’s all sorts of people who believe all sorts of things.

Shama Hyder:

And I find that rather than trying to change people’s beliefs, it’s much better to stay in your lane to do your best and to prioritize sort of your own goals, your own happiness, not to the detriment of others, but to be really motivated by what you want for why you want it, right? To perhaps serve society, to maybe give back to your community. Whatever it is, I find that that kind of motivation helps you get success in the millions, if that’s what you want, a heck a lot easier. All right, guys. Hope you enjoyed this. Check out a ton more videos over here. I’ve been creating a lot more content for you. Hope you enjoy it. Leave me a comment or a question if you have one and don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks so much for watching.