Are you a wantrepreneur? Meet Russell and Tim...

Alright, I want to introduce you to Russell and Tim...

One of them will never build a successful business. He may make a few dollars here and there (if he’s lucky). But nothing meaningful.

The other one will build an asset that gives himself freedom and control of his time.

Meet Russell:

That’s me, Russell.

I’m 33 years old and live in Austin, TX.

I’m a marketing manager for a tech startup. And even though my job pays pretty well, I’ve been thinking long and hard about starting my own biz for a while now.

…Especially over the last few months. I’ve been reading all of these success stories...

  •  “College kid makes $10k per month selling supplements on Amazon.”

  •  “High-School Dropout Earns 7-figures a Year Selling Digital Products”

  •  “Former attorney starts a travel blog, quits her job and makes a full time living doing what she loves.”

...I’ve just never gotten anything going myself. But it’s not like I haven’t tried!

I’ve started a few blogs. They never took off.

I’ve created an eBook, but it never sold any copies.

I’ve invested a few hundred bucks in courses and books, but never saw results from any of them.

What I’ve realized is that business is all about speed. If you don’t jump on the trends quick, you’ve basically missed your shot. That’s why I subscribe to so many people’s newsletters and read so many blogs.

I want to have ALL the information I need to act when the time is right.

I’m 100% committed to owning my thing... I will one day... I hope….

Now, let's meet Tim:

That’s me, Tim.

I’m 29 years old and live in San Francisco, CA.

I’m the CEO of 10x School. Like my friend, Russell, I’ve been an entrepreneur-at-heart my whole life.

When I was first starting my business, it was hard as hell.

I was constantly outside of my comfort zone. Challenging myself to do things that felt unnatural and difficult.

I actually wanted to give up a few times, but I’m glad I stuck it out.

Because as soon as I tested my idea and got my first few customers, it got a whole lot easier.

And once things took off, there was no looking back.

I was able to quit my job, work on my business full-time and provide a better life for my future family. My wife and I are getting ready to have our first child and we're finishing up renovations on the home we recently bought—just in time!

I’ll come back to Russell and Tim in just a sec.

But first let me tell you how I met them...

How I found out about Russell.

This is the story of how I met Russell and my most epic failure as a young entrepreneur.

It was 2009. I was a Sophomore in college. My friends and I were huge fans of 2 things:

1. Concerts


2. The occasional (decriminalized) recreational marijuana cigarette.

We didn’t look quite as cool as President Obama, but you get the picture.

Thankfully, our two favorite things went perfectly together...Well, kind of.

Until one night at a Kid Cudi concert. We ran into two huge security guards. They confiscated our joints and we almost got into serious trouble. Thankfully they let us off with a slap on the wrists and let us stay.

As we stood and semi-enjoyed/semi-looked-over-our-shoulders for the rest of the concert, I was thinking of how I could avoid that ever happening again.

Bingo. I had a great idea!

“Whoa. What if you could hide your stash in your iPhone?”

Now if that isn’t profound, I don’t know what is. I felt a bit like Adam Sandler from The Hot Chick, explaining this idea to my friends.

My Role as Russell.

I did a little Googling and found a factory on Alibaba that would actually get these weed-stashing iPhone cases designed, built and shipped pretty cheap.

And like most bad ideas, I didn’t think about the risks. I didn’t care about product-market fit or demand. I didn't worry about asking people if they'd actually buy this product. I only thought about the upside.

“This is going to make me so much money!”

Because I was CLEARLY going to make millions off this the natural next step was wiring $7,000 (that I barely had) to China to produce these things. It seemed like a great investment.

I was actually pretty pleased with final product mockups...


25 big boxes of these things showed up on my doorstep. That’s when I realized I had a ton of these things to sell and no idea what I was doing.


I still have no idea how, but slowly between trade shows, cold-calling, my online store, visits to local smoke shops and selling them one-by-one to my friends, I finally managed to sell the last of the original 1,000 units.

The $7,000 I spent wasn’t all lost.


But as soon as I got that huge weight off my back, I got another idea….

“What if I placed a large order of 5,000 units this time….

....That would drop the unit price down significantly and I could make more profit per unit now that I've kinda figured out how to sell these things.”

That’s right. I broke out that shovel and dug a deeper hole. Nice.

The next couple of months were a disaster. Retailers didn’t want my product. My online store was floundering. I’d get MAYBE a few orders per week.

There was one feature story that gave me a huge, short-lived spike of sales, but I was still $6,537.00 in the hole at the end of the day.

A hole that I never dug myself out. Lucky for me, I shut that business down a few months later. Before digging the hole any deeper.

That's when I had an epiphany.

I realized that I’d been operating as a RUSSELL the whole time (although I hadn’t labeled this trait a “Russell” yet).

Even though I’d gotten a few sales, I’d definitely maxed out the potential of what a Russell could ever do with a business (consistently).

The Role of Tim.

Tim operates completely differently than a Russell.

Tim “manages” his attraction to shiny-objects. He’s not addicted to “trends.” He can control what he focuses on and what he chooses to ignore.

He’s selective and intentional. He values his time.

Tim validates everything before spending time on it. And as a result, Tim builds a real, “flesh-and-blood” business.

The second that I changed my mindset (and the way I approached building a business) from Russell to Tim, my results changed dramatically.

I went from struggling to recoup a few thousand dollars in sunk costs.

To growing my last business, Case Escape to over $160,000 in one year.

Oh, and that was while I kept my day job. It wasn't easy. But the shift in thinking was a game-changer.

It was about VALIDATING everything, BEFORE spending time on it.

This may sounds subtle. But it’s kind of like the difference between having a GPS, showing you exactly what turns you need to take on a long trip.

Versus starting a trip by just guessing which direction you’re going.

Maybe (with a little dumb luck) you get there. But never consistently.

The difference is huge. I’ve taught others to do the same. And the results they've been getting are amazing.

So, are you a Russell or a Tim?

Russell and Tim have two fundamentally different approaches to life.

Russell keeps his head on a swivel, looking for opportunities to get started. And if he does start (which is rare), his results trickle in at best. A few dozen subscribers. A few sales.

Tim is different. He knows that building a business is a process, not an event.

He tests his ideas on real people before diving in. He’s slower to start. But he will win in the end.

Good news: every Russell can become a Tim.

I went through the transformation. And I’ve carefully documented every step you need to go through this transformation inside my 30 days to validate program.

If you’re interested, I’ll tell you more about this training soon. But for today, I want to you to think about who you’ve been operating as.

Are you a Russell or a Tim?

More importantly, who do you want to be?

Like I said before, you can always choose a new future.

See you soon,


18 responses to “The Difference Between a Wantrepreneur and Entrepreneur: Meet Russell and Tim”

  1. Dang! I was getting all excited and stuff when I first started reading about Russell! “Yeah! That is so me!” (Prematurely thinking he was ultimately the success story) but then you just haaaad to go s******g in my cereal! ? I forgive you, though. On a serious note, thank you for bringing this to light for me. My real issue, though, is which direction I want to take with my business pursuit. There are so many options! And then narrowing down my niche! I have a few ideas, but I’m having trouble figuring out which one would be the best route to take. At which step of the process would you say this course would be most useful? And thank you for being awesome. ?

  2. My issue is focus and limited time. I work doubles most days with the day job because of aggressive financial and travel goals, but the result of that leaves me little time to implement any actionable plan. My choice, I know. So in the meantime, i have a lot of ideas and i need to pick one and see it through. I do get to a point though where i dont know the next step to take, but working on the baby steps.

  3. Awesome general analogy of the difference between what most of us do vs the successful minority.

    Like Russell, I often find myself struggling to focus on one specific path, and shuffling form one direction to the next, ultimately going nowhere fast!

    I think it’s possibly a case of being desperate to push results quickly!

    For example, I own some printing machinery, the possibilities are endless, and therein lies the problem! There are SO many directions I can move in, so many markets I can tap into, that this is all I seem to do, I tap in, grow restless and move on to the next! FOCUS is key for me!!

  4. Hey Ryan –

    I remember the phone cases you worked on in college! I also remember how much I admired you for starting your own business; it’s cool to see how far you’ve come!

    Thanks for being so transparent about your business journey. I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs can learn some valuable lessons from you. For me, I worked for about a year to start We Take Note and then realized through research that it’s slowly going in a different direction than I originally thought. I realized it was less about what I was providing and moreso about who I was providing it to & what they wanted.

    It’s definitely been a journey so far, but I’m motivated to see what’s next!

    Excited to learn more from you & hope we can reconnect soon!

  5. I currently see myself more like Russell in that I’ve played around with a few ideas that never took off, though I’m aggressively researching what I think will add value without actually testing the market with a minimal viable product. I also have found myself adopting the “head on the swivel looking for the next opportunity” outlook. I relate to your personal experience in trying to perfect an idea (the stash phone) before you knew exactly how you were going to sell it or the specific traits/behaviors/qualifiers of your interested customer.

    I want to be like Tim, in taking the long-game approach to building a business. The bit about growth happening outside his comfort zone is potent. That’s where I am focusing now, being comfortable with the uncomfortable. Knowing that the business I want to build will not materialize over night, nor will I luck into it simply with a great idea. I want to be more selective and intentional and place a higher premium on my time. To be strategic about validation before getting too far ahead of myself.

    Great post, thanks again Ryan.

  6. I want to become russel.. Although some of his experience really hit my heart..I love to build and business also but then its really hard to put up a business that you dont have a capital yet but i believe in myself that time will come i build my business with the help of Tim and Russel..Thank you for all the inspirational experiences that motivate me and grown me more being a woman.
    Thank you..

  7. I definitely want to be Tim but I have had people whom I tell about my bussiness idea pulling me down to be Russell. Am keeping on pushing to be Tim regardless of what people say.

  8. I think I’m worse than Russell. i’ve been developing business ideas spending time on them just to end up in the bin. now i’m determined to be tim.

  9. Ryan, have you considered our respective terrains when you try to help us have our own business? What you are doing is commendable though, we are from a diverse environment that have special cases.

  10. Thanks for this. I’m almost like Russel now, and almost about to give up before I even started. But since every Russel can become a Tim, I guess all hope isn’t lost yet. I’ll just have to change my approach. Thanks again.

  11. I would love to start something from home, but still struggling with the idea. Its perhaps the fear of not making it. Help me Ryan, how do I overcome that.
    I am separated and do need to make money. Right now my extended family has been helping me out.

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