I can still remember when I first discovered entrepreneurship and business ownership. As I dreamed of making money, living free and doing life “my way,” I remember thinking, “This is great, but if everyone figures this entrepreneurship thing out, I’m in trouble.”
See, I thought that the more entrepreneurs and business owners out there trying to make a living and make money meant competition. The more people that were starting businesses meant there would be fewer opportunities, and I would have to work extra hard just to get my share of the pie.
Fortunately for me and everyone out there, I was dead wrong. The opposite is true.
I quickly began to see the world differently as I continued my journey. Of course, there are competitors to your business out there. You must constantly be improving to stay on top. But as more and more entrepreneurs innovate and create the products and services we all want and need, there is more opportunity to make money and more opportunities to innovate than before.
When John D. Rockefeller first got started in the oil business, whale oil was used to light homes. Within years Rockefeller had single-handedly put the whale oilers out of business by making kerosene the choice to light homes and not whale oil.
And as his fortune grew to gigantic proportions, it created countless new opportunities, not less. Rockefeller ramped up production, and kerosene became affordable. As a result, factories could run extra shifts, running well into the night. And new businesses, which previously couldn’t operate after dark or afford to light their businesses, were now able to come into existence.
Not only did Rockefeller save the whales, but he created vast new opportunities for other businesses and entrepreneurs.
This cycle repeats itself constantly.
The automobile created the thousands of trucking and logistics companies we have today. Trucking and logistics companies made it easier for giant grocery stores to spring up. Some entrepreneurs figured out how to get our voices and faces flying through cellular waves. And then Apple turned that into the iPhone, which created millions more jobs (and millionaires and billionaires in app development).
Businesses and entrepreneurs have made all that possible. And as each innovation was “taken” or figured out, even more opportunities sprang up.
I thought of this again the other day while I was on a turkey hunting trip. A friend of mine had some Gear Ties. For those of you unfamiliar, a Gear Tie is a fantastically simple invention. It’s essentially a zip tie or twist tie made of metal and covered in plastic. It’s reusable and an incredibly useful way to secure gear or tie things together.
I’d seen these before, but I caught myself thinking what the old me would have thought.
The old me would have seen that invention and thought “Good for that guy, but now there’s one less invention out there.” The new me sees that little Gear Tie as a symbol of the fact that we will never run out of inventions or ways to improve. And with each one, we will be inspired to innovate even more.
There are a million ways to make a million dollars. And each new business or service that succeeds in making our lives better prove it.
And not only does it prove it, but it means more and more opportunities for all of us.
Aaron Stahl is the CEO and co-founder of Springdale firm P3 Cost Analysts, a nationwide cost reduction consulting franchise that specializes in saving businesses and local governments money. The opinions expressed are those of the author.