We are gathered here today to mourn the death of the man who kept us down, and prevented us from living our dreams. He was a stuffy old man in a suit who for years blocked our access to several industries.
Now he’s dead.
It wasn’t too long ago when there were gate keepers everywhere. Carefully picking and choosing who gets to play and who doesn’t. It was a world filled with shady backroom deals, nepotism, and classism. A world where if they didn’t like you or your message you were kept out in the cold.
If you’re over the age of 40 I’m sure you remember a world where it was a lot harder to do anything. Sure you’re teachers and parents still told you… “You can do whatever you want”. But, how true was that really?
If there was something you wanted to do chances are there was a gate keeper standing in the way. Someone whose approval or blessing you needed just to have any shot.
Well today most of those gate keepers are either dead or dying. I’d like to show you how they’ve died and how you can start doing whatever you want, right away.
There was a time, in the not so distant past, where the majority of books were released by a handful of New York City publishers. Aspiring authors would have to send their manuscripts off in the hopes that their work would be noticed. The reality back then was your manuscript wasn’t likely to have been read. Let alone given a publishing deal.
And if that didn’t work you could go to another gate keeper, the literary agent. It’s like a gate keeper before the gate keeper.
This has all changed thanks to Amazon, kindle direct, and direct internet sales. Now you can go ahead and write your dream novel and virtually guarantee publishing.
Plus self publishing isn’t the death wish it once was in the gate keeper world. You can look at the success of Erika Leonard (E.L. James) author of the best selling “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. To date she has sold over 70 million copies and her first book is about to become a feature film.
You don’t need a major publisher to make it any more.
Credit Card Processing and Merchant Services
If you’ve ever tried to set up a merchant account to take credit cards you know what a pain in the rear it can be. I’m serious; most proctology exams are less invasive.
You’d have to dress up in a suit and tie, head over to your bank, and bring over enough paperwork to tell your life story. After filling out an avalanche of paper work, jumping through hoops, and waiting for weeks you’d finally find out if you’re approved.
If the answer was no there was no way you could be in business. You were stuck and pretty much forced to try again with another bank hoping for a different result.
Paypal changed all of this. Now you can go to Paypal.com enter some basic personal information and click a few buttons and you’re good to go. You can start taking credit card payments for your business by the end of the day. All while you sat in your underwear at your laptop.
If you’re involved with in person selling you can use a device called, “square” that hooks up to your Iphone. It’s simple to set up and use.
Radio and TV
Have you ever dreamed about having your own radio or TV show? I know I did. As kid I always thought it would be neat to host a sports talk radio show.
For years this was a closed door network. Companies like Clear Channel owned a large share of all radio stations. Plus for decades there was only ABC, NBC, and CBS when it came to TV.
Programming directors at these major networks decided who could and couldn’t have a show. Even worse they decided what type of shows would air and which wouldn’t. If you’re show was deemed to edgy… you’re out of luck. If you’re show was to niche and didn’t appeal to a large audience… you’re out of luck.
Now with podcasting you can have a radio show with some simple recording equipment. Simply upload that recording to iTunes and you’re in business. Just because we’re talking independent doesn’t mean we’re talking small potatoes either. In 8 years Apple has said its users have subscribed to over a billion podcasts. Some podcasts even have as much as a million listeners per episode. Your local radio station would be happy with a fraction of that many listeners.
It’s not just radio that’s been changed. Sites like Ustream and YouTube allow you to have your own TV shows. CaptainSparklez, a young man with a gaming YouTube channel, has over 6 million subscribers. Folks like this are building an audience and making a living covering topics they love and enjoy.
There are countless stories of YouTube sensations getting record deals and becoming actual TV stars as well. One recent example is Kyle Mooney. He was a comedic actor doing parody skits on YouTube. Now he’s a featured cast member on Saturday Night Live.
Home chefs from all over the world are now becoming world class restaurateurs. To open a restaurant in the past used to and still does involve a boatload of cash.
By most estimates you’re looking at a $500,000 investment to get your restaurant up and running. That’s not even counting all the hoops and bureaucratic red tape you need to go through just to open your doors.
Gate keepers are everywhere when it comes to restaurants. They’re the ones who make all the money. The government permits, the realtors, the lawyers, and contractors all profit. While the restaurateur invests his life savings and must work 60 hour weeks just to make his money back.
Today smart business owners have found a trendy way to hotwire this industry… Food Trucks. And we’re not talking about the roach coaches you’d see on construction sites back in the day. No, these are real gourmet food trucks.
Now all you need is a truck with a tiny kitchen and a parking space. These food trucks have even figured out ingenious ways to stay in touch with their customers via Twitter and Facebook. This way customers always know how to find them.
The thing I like about this model is it allows them to test a concept cheaply. If you’re a runaway success you can add more trucks or invest the cash into a brick and mortar location. Plus the loan for a truck is easier to get than a half million dollar restaurant loan. This actually brings me to my last area where the gate keepers have died…
Financing, especially financing for a business has always been a major uphill battle. You used to have two choices when it came to getting your business financed. The first was putting on your monkey suit and asking a bank. The other was borrowing from family and friends.
With banks this was absolutely horrible. It involves business plans, projections, numbers, and insane amounts of collateral. Plus bankers don’t understand most businesses. Try pitching an exciting and innovative new concept to a stuffy banker.
The friends and family route can be easier, but involves a lot of heart ache. If you fail, you’ll never hear the end of it. You don’t want to let your family down, but sometimes things just happen.
Now you can bypass all of this with a rising new trend called, “crowd funding”. One of the more popular ones that you may have heard of is kickstarter. Kickstarter allows people to pitch their project and business ideas to millions of users. You simply create a page with a goal amount. If the goal is reached you receive all the money to complete your project.
With kickstarter campaigns people will often use reward based incentives to bring in funding. For example, let’s say you needed $20,000 to start your new t-shirt line. If someone gave you $20 you might give them a t-shirt. For $100 you might include a few t-shirts or a very limited edition t-shirt. A backer who is generous enough to give $2,000 you might fly to your town and go shopping with them.
The rewards are only limited by your creativity. For example filmmaker Spike Lee recently had a crowd funding campaign for a movie he was making. The highest level backers would get to sit courtside with him at a Knicks game.
I love crowd funding because only the best most in demand projects get done. If you can’t find enough backers chances are it’s not an idea worth pursuing.
So there you have it. The gate keepers really are dead… while the few who are still alive are hanging on by a thread.
We are living in a truly unique time in history. One where you can do whatever you want regardless of your background. Just go out there and do it. The only gate keeper standing in your way at this point is yourself.