Start Something That Matters

Start Something That Matters
What matters most to you? Should you focus on earning a living, pursuing your passions, or devoting yourself to the causes that inspire you? The surprising truth is that you don’t have to choose—and that you’ll find more success if you don’t. That’s the breakthrough message of TOMS’ One for One movement. You don’t have to be rich to give back and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love.

Start Something That Matters

If you are looking to start your own business, then this book has the advice you need to make that happen. And the only way to get started is to overcome any fears you may have.

Even without a lot of business experience or resources, with Start Something That Matters, Black Mycoskie delivers insight into how to start a company, while also overcoming your fears.

Whether you want a small business selling handmade crafts or something on a more global scale, Mycoskie looks at the fears that hold many of us back and offers advice for overcoming these setbacks and handling any challenges that come your way.

By starting his own company, Blake Mycoskie has been able to put together practical knowledge that shows people how to “recycle” another person’s business card, why even making a mistake is worth rewarding an employee for, and why it is okay to let bad things happen.

Key Points

  • Fear is natural, but letting it go unchecked can be damaging

We all get scared at times, and while it can make us feel ashamed or embarrassed, it is a natural emotion. Typically it is an emotion we experience when we come across a situation for the first time or run into a new experience.

Fear of failure can make us so uncomfortable that we miss out on potential opportunities. However, talking about our fears and being willing to confront them is the only way we can push forward.

  • To overcome a fear, you must first be able to identify that fear

The best way to overcome one’s fear is to face it head-on. Do whatever it is that inspires fear in you and let what happens, happen.

Fear might be one of the most powerful emotions we deal with, but once we confront our fears, we tend to find that they are actually quite minor and we can overcome it with ease.

The author has faced his own fears in business, including when he wanted to start his business, TOMS, in Argentina. At the time, he did not have a lot of experience or even resources, and this left him with the temptation to scrap his business entirely.

Instead, he started by making a list with one side being what he was afraid of and the other being the worst-case scenario. By writing down his fears and the possibility of what could happen, he was able to see that while it may still be scary to try something new, it really wasn’t as bad as he had made it out to be in his head.

  • You can’t predict the future, so don’t let it hold you back

New business ventures are the easiest thing to fear, especially for people who are doing this for the first time. This fear stops many people from even making the first step towards a new business.

However, much of the fear comes from the belief that we need to have a ton of experience going into this venture. This is not actually the case.

No one can predict the future and therefore you can’t actually create a business strategy that is free of risk. You can’t wait for the perfect time to start something new, because there will never be a truly perfect time. And in many cases, people never get started because they have waited too long to begin with.

Instead, to get past the fears that are holding you back, there are strategies to try.

You can read biographies of entrepreneurs who have already achieved success. This can point you to the fears that they had and what they did to overcome them.

Another tip is to write down whatever goals you may have. Having these goals pinned above your desk can be the motivation you need to push through your fears. Motivational quotes can also help.

Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and motivational will also help you to get through the tough times.

  • Keeping things simple can let you create something successful

When we come across things that are complicated, we assume that it is also sophisticated. However, this is not the right way to look at things. Sometimes things that are complicated are also flawed in some way.

Instead, if you want to achieve success, it is better to keep things simple. This is also true when talking about the design of things, as the more simple the design, the more popular it tends to be.

Keeping things simple is also useful on bigger picture pieces of the business puzzle, such as the business model or strategy.

When sticking to simplicity, it is important to focus on a few of the things that really matter and forget the rest.

It is important to let the little things that are bad happen and remember that they are irrelevant to your future and your success. This will also make it easier to stay on track and work towards your goals. It is about ignoring everything that is not pushing you forward in your business venture.

Even keeping things simple when it comes to daily activities will help improve your work routine and get you to your final destination.

  • Even with limited resources, it is possible to grow a business that is successful

By keeping things simple in business, you will also find that you do not need as many resources. Finding creative solutions in business can show potential investors and partners that you are committed to your goals without wasting money.

And with today’s technology, one’s perceived lack of resources should not be a limitation as there are plenty of things available online for free that can help you with your business.

Even without a lot of resources, you can increase productivity by using free tools such as Google Drive and Doodle. Doodle can help you schedule business meetings, and Google Drive can help with paperwork and organization.

Think of your lack of resources as a way to keep things simple and streamlined when starting your business.

  • Surround yourself with like-minded people who can help build you up

In order to have a successful business, you need a team. This means that you need to surround yourself with like-minded people who can help build you up. Basically, you need the help of other people.

To bring people in who can help you, you may want to put together a map of your network. This just means making a list of all the people that you know.

Every person on your list has their own set of skills and knowledge that can potentially add more value to your business.

Beyond looking at the people close to you, you should also be looking for passionate people who have the same goals as you. When starting a business, you want people who are just as enthusiastic as you are.

Having the right people working with you also means that they will believe in what you are doing and the project itself. These same people will also feel a sense of excitement over being part of something new.

Typically it doesn’t take a lot to spark motivation or a sense of joy in people, especially when you are all passionate about the same things.

  • A good business typically has a sense of humor when it comes to the mistakes they make, while also having a giving nature

It is important to know what kind of business you want to run. And knowing that you are running a good business can be important because there are benefits to being a good business.

Most of the successful companies in the world are known for being philanthropic and being willing to give back. Not only is it about caring about their public image, but it is also about having a company that the employees can think highly of.

It is important to create an environment within the workplace that is all about honesty and trust. This means that you are understanding when an employee makes a mistake. It is very rare that a mistake is so bad that it is irreversible or truly disastrous. So it is important to be understanding and use the mistake in a positive way to learn from the experience.

  • Marketing can mean being a storyteller over just getting the facts out there

Once your business is up and running, you need to be able to market your product and business.

While you may want to use statistics and facts to draw a customer in, the best way to appeal to customers is by telling a story that makes your product or business sound good.

A story that is vivid and detailed will be more memorable than any facts you might offer.

A good story does more than sell a product, it also gives business and product identity. It is all about creating a connection with your customers and evoking emotions in them.

Finding a personal story that works for your business is important, even if it might take time and work.


It is important to overcome your fears when you decide to start a business. Even without any experience or a lot of resources, it is possible to get started and be successful.

At the same time, it is important to have like-minded people around you who can not only lift you up and support you but who is also there to help you build your business.

It is important to be passionate about your product and have employees who are also passionate. Get creative with your business and remember that mistakes happen, but you can use those mistakes to grow and succeed.

About the Author

Blake Mycoskie is an American entrepreneur, author, and philanthropist. He is the founder of TOMS Shoes. He attended Southern Methodist University on a Tennis scholarship but left during his sophomore year after an Achille tendon injury ended his tennis career. He launched his first business, EZ laundry, an on-campus dry cleaning service.

He focused on SMU to get his clientele and expanded to $1 million in sales. After college, he founded Mycoskie Media, an outdoor billboard company focused on country music. It was later sold to Clear Channel nine months after launch.

He competed in the second season of The Amazing Race and finished in third place.

He co-founded a cable network, Reality Central with Larry Namer, a founder of E Entertainment Television. For the company, he raised $25 million from venture capitalists. The network failed in 2005 after Rupert Murdoch launched the Fox Reality Chanel and outbid Reality Central for advertisers and programming.

Mycoskie then launched DriversEd Direct, an online driver’s education service, which offered behind the wheel training in hybrid and sport utility vehicles, He created Closer Marketing Group, a marketing firm based in Santa Monica to promote the company.

After seeing the poverty in Argentina, he founded Shoes for Better Tomorrow, a for-profit business that gave new shoes to poor children. For every pair of shoes sold, the company donated a new pair of shoes. By 2013, the company had donated over 10,000,000 shoes to people in need. The shoes were sold around the world in more than 1000 stores.

His book, Start Something That Matters, is a New York Times bestseller. 100% of the royalties from the book provided grants to entrepreneurs. For every copy of the book sold, Blake Mycoskie promised to give a copy to a child in need.

In 2014, he launched TOMS Roasting Co, offering coffee sourced through direct trade efforts in Rwanda, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Malawi. Mycoskie pledged to donate a week of water to people in need in supplier countries for every bag of coffee sold.

In 2014, Blake Mycoskie sold 50% of TOMS to Bain Capital. He now serves as Chief Shoe Giver. He pledged to donate 50% of profits from the sale to help with social entrepreneurship and other causes.

He is married with one son.


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