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If I Were 22, I’d learn how to take $1 and make it into $2

Matt and Nicole Zito

Matt Zito and Nicole Spotswood 22 years old George Mason University Class of 1992.

This post was published at LinkedIn as part of the “If I Were 22” series.

When I was 22 years old I was a college student at George Mason University (GMU). My first entrepreneurial venture was the “Brew Bus.” I bused college students from GMU on the weekends to the famous bars and nightclubs on “M” street in Georgetown in Washington DC.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers were picketing our college campus as a college student had recently been killed because of drunk driving. I knew the students were not going to stop drinking so I conjured up a solution to the problem of college students drinking and driving off campus. I’d bus the students from GMU to the bars of Georgetown and try to make money while saving lives.

My business model was a work of beauty. It worked like this. I’d ask for a donation of $2.00-$5.00 from my classmates for the round trip transportation. My uncle was an attorney and he suggested that I don’t charge a fee but ask for a donation to help reduce my risk of any liability.  I cut a deal with the bar owners to receive 50% of the cover charge for each person entering the bar. I earned back-end money by receiving 10% of the gross drinks sold that night. So I made money from three parts of the service, transportation, access and sales.

When 2-3 buses of college students pull up to a bar at night it attracts serious attention. Buzz throughout the Georgetown bars spread like wildfire that buses of college students were at “X’ bar.  In a short period of time the bar filled to maximum capacity and lines started forming outside with people that wanted to get in.

I made most of my money from the 10% of gross sales because I captured income from people that weren’t on my buses but who were in the area and then decided that this bar was the place to be.

Some nights, I made $2,000-$3,000. Not bad for a 22 year old. The “Brew Bus” launched my entrepreneurial career.

What advice would you give to a young person entering the working world today?

I’d forget about going to work for others and figure out how to earn income on your own.
Risk everything early.
At 22 you have limited responsibilities.

I’d learn how to become an entrepreneur.
Find a problem and figure out a solution that makes you money.

Learn how to sell.
The greatest entrepreneurs are salesman at heart.
Learn how to make things happen by being proactive.
Learn how to think for yourself. Don’t wait to be told what to do.
Learn how to be creative.
Learn how to execute. Most people talk. Talk has limited value.

After you execute magical things will happen.
Opportunities that you didn’t see will arise from your execution efforts.
Don’t be afraid of protecting an idea. Ideas are worthless unless executed.

I meet too many entrepreneurs today that don’t know how to make money. They are engineers or developers and actually don’t know how to take $1.00 and make it $2.00. It’s difficult to understand how business works unless you can actually learn how to make money for yourself.

To save money in your first 6 months-1 year of launching your product or business rent a house or apartment with friends that are working for others, this way when they go to work from 9-5 you can have the house/apartment all to your self and get things done.

Learn how to work with others by having a co-founder or multiple founders.
Find a Mentor, someone you look up to. Listen to what they say and then implement pieces of their wisdom into your life.
Friends and family may not understand what you are doing as they have been conditioned to live a life that requires them to listen and do what other people tell them to do.

Learn how to accept other people’s views and beliefs but don’t allow other people to influence you unless you truly believe what they are saying.
Don’t be judgmental.
Learn to appreciate what you have.
Thank your family for everything they have done for you.
Celebrate your first $2.00 sold with a party with your friends and family.

And finally, when you find the love of your life never let them go. The girl in the picture Nicole Spotswood from college is Nicole S. Zito my wife and business partner of 23 years.

This is just my advice for 22 year old’s.
Follow it if you believe it but please, please think for yourself.
Wishing you all the best in your career and life.

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