When I was 11, I was a naughty boy stealing sweets. By 14, I was importing phones wholesale from China. Here’s the story:

As a kid, most of my methods of making money involved getting into trouble. Then one day, the caveman discovered fire. My school got some computers, and I learned about design. I went from scribbling in notebooks to drawing in art class to designing logos and business cards.

How did I turn pro? I found a cheap USB stick on the floor near the bus stop. I loaded that cheap USB stick with a lightweight open-source design software called Inkscape and would run around plugging it into any unattended computer at school or in my local library to practice. People liked my designs, so I sold them. I’d design whatever you wanted.

It wasn’t long before I could charge upwards of £200 for design projects. I was 13 years old and making more money than I’d ever seen in my life. Eventually, I bought a cheap paper cutter and some card stock. Now I could run a vertically-integrated production workstream from my bedroom. If your church, school, or club needed flyers for an event, I could design, print, and cut the flyers. It would cost you miles less than any local printer, and I’d work twice as hard.

Then I took it up a notch. The next challenge? Video. My secret weapon? Microsoft PowerPoint. I couldn’t afford any video editing software, but it turned out you could export PowerPoint slides in mp4 format. So I’d design some slides, add a few transitions, and sell you a video file. I had just turned 14, and my project rate was £500.

Later that year, I started my first registered company. I was importing electronics from China. Within a few months, I went from selling my drama teacher a presentation clicker to selling my school a new IT suite. There’s no magic to this story. Here’s the simple truth:

The big things come from the little things. And the little things come from cheap USBs you find on the floor near the bus stop.

No magic, no secrets. Success comes from starting where you are, using what you have, and doing what you can.

Being under-resourced isn’t an excuse to be an amateur. Turning pro is a decision that’s entirely within your control. Put yourself on the ​hook​. Make a promise and deliver on it. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. The art of being scrappy is in using your resourcefulness to turn limitations into opportunities.

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