In 2008, aspiring architect Pat Flynn got laid off from his job at an architecture firm in the Bay Area.
After some mild depression and a return to his parents' house, the then 25-year-old decided to create a website designed to help others pass the LEED, an exam in the architecture industry.
Flynn's accidental entry into the online business world turned into a lucrative career. He narrates his sudden shift in his 2016 book, "Will It Fly?" which he self-published via Amazon.
After a year of selling study guides, classes, and practice exams, he had generated over $200,000 in sales. Since, the entrepreneur has built several other online businesses, including "Smart Passive Income," which earns him up to $170,000 a month, and sometimes more.
"Even though I've created successful businesses over the years, I've had a number of complete failures too," Flynn writes in his latest book. "When I look back and carefully examine each of these failures, the fatal flaw always comes down to one of two things."
"You just don't make money if you don't care about people first," he explains. "Putting cash over caring has never rewarded me, and I've since learned that your earnings become a byproduct of how well you serve your audience."
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg places a similar emphasis on serving your audience. Don't set out to build a company, he advises in an interview with Y Combinator. Rather, "start with the problem that you're trying to solve in the world. … The best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change, even if it's just local in one place."
You have to pinpoint exactly what you want to do above anything else, Zuckerberg emphasizes. Yet, "people decide often that they want to start a company before they decide what they want to do. And that feels really backwards to me."
"Getting excited about something and rushing into it isn't a behavior that only children possess," Flynn writes. "It's common in all ages, and particularly common in entrepreneurs."
He's no exception. "I used to rush into things because I didn't want to waste time, but my haste often cost me more time (and a lot of money) in the process. ... Yes, we have to pull the trigger or 'just ship,' as we often hear, but at the same time common sense tells us that a little bit of time up front to validate an idea can make all the difference in the world."