Turning a Passion Into a Small Business

This week I traveled to Fort Collins, Colorado to check out a banjo shop making handcrafted, one-of-a-kind instruments. This experience gave me fresh insights into the true value of entrepreneurship at a local level, and I hope to pass that along through the mini-documentary linked above.

In today’s day and age, entrepreneurs and business owners like Elon Musk are almost universally adored — and rightfully so. But people tend to forget that you can follow your passion and build a business doing things like designing and building unique banjos, too.

In this video, Mark “Rooster” Austin, the owner of Cloverlick Banjo Shop, explains how he took his passion for music and turned it into a small business. One thing that really stands out from hearing Mark speak is the peace of mind he has achieved through entrepreneurship. He’s providing value to his community in a way that he’s uniquely qualified to do, and I think the effects of that can be seen clearly in this short interview.

Entrepreneurship, ultimately, is about problem solving. These days, some of the biggest problems society is facing are anxiety and depression, and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that most people are stuck working jobs that give them little to no fulfillment. Somewhat ironically, the act of entrepreneurship itself can be one of the biggest ways that we eradicate anxiety and depression from the general population and build a society that moves in harmony.

When you’re part of a small team like at Cloverlick Banjo Shop, it’s so much easier to live a meaningful life where you are connected with your work and the people you do it with. As automation and AI continue to eliminate unskilled labor jobs from the economy, it’s these small businesses providing unique products and services that can replace soulless, repetitive jobs with engaging and purposeful ones.

Hopefully, more people will hear stories like Mark’s and realize that they don’t need to be just another cog in the corporate wheel. Whether your passionate about music, photography, art, technology, or anything else under the sun, start thinking about how you can turn that passion into something valuable to society. Once you figure that out, you’ll be well on your way to the happy and fulfilled life that we all seek.

By sharing the stories of other entrepreneurs through the “Creators Spotlight” we hope to give you the insight and motivation to recognize that it is possible to turn your passion into a successful business. If you or somebody you know has a story worth sharing, please contact us.

One Dollar or One Bitcoin Part 2 - How much does the typical American know about Bitcoin?

After getting some interesting reactions in my first Bitcoin social experiment, I decided to head to downtown Denver for a day and ask pedestrians which they would prefer: One Dollar or One Bitcoin.

As you’ll see in the video, the majority of people chose the dollar — which was also the case when I asked the same question to students at Colorado University at Boulder a few weeks prior. This time, at least there were several people who knew that one BTC’s value was definitely worth more than a dollar. But even of those, not a single person had a cryptocurrency wallet to receive Bitcoin.

It’s interesting to see how much the crypto world has matured in the past couple of years while most people remain oblivious to it. At the same time, it feels like the days that crypto stays under the mainstream radar are drawing closer to an end.

Facebook just raised $280 million from partners including PayPal, Visa, and Uber for their new Libra blockchain and — although it’s not really decentralized and not ever really a cryptocurrency — there’s little doubt that Libra will introduce hundreds of millions of people to the concept of global digital currency in the years ahead.

Another interesting trend from these interviews with “nocoiners” has been the common theme that many believe “Bitcoin’s price fluctuates” and “the dollar’s value stays the same.” I think that a big reason the citizens of America (and other nations with strong fiat currencies) know so little of Bitcoin is that they know so little of money in general. Even a basic understanding of economics could change people’s lives, but it’s not taught in schools unless you major in it at a university.

Thanks to inflation, the only way to actually preserve wealth in the modern era is to invest it. Unfortunately, basic principles of investing aren’t common knowledge either.

Ultimately, the most rewarding part of creating these videos is meeting the people who are willing to download a cryptocurrency wallet and participate in their first crypto transaction with me. Even though I’m only sending a small amount, I believe that it can ignite their curiosity so that they take initiative to look deeper into Bitcoin and begin to understand its value proposition.

With the vast majority of the world’s population still so clueless about what cryptocurrency is and how it works, the upside for being a part of the crypto industry now is practically endless. 🚀

One Dollar or One Bitcoin - Is it too late to be an early investor in cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin’s 10th birthday earlier this year provided a good chance to reflect upon just how far the cryptocurrency has come since its genesis block. With BTC’s price appreciating by about 1,000,000% since trading of it began, it also makes you question whether there’s still the huge potential upside for investors that existed way back then, or if 2019 is too late to be an early investor in cryptocurrencies.

For those of us who make a living in the cryptocurrency industry, it can feel as if most people already know about Bitcoin and altcoins. Spending any considerable amount of time on reddit and CT (crypto twitter) only strengthens this feeling. With that in mind, I decided to escape the crypto bubble for a day and go to a nearby university campus to see how many of the students there were familiar with Bitcoin.

I decided a fun way to get a real gauge on the general public awareness of Bitcoin would be to stop students and ask them a simple question:

If I were to give you one Dollar or one Bitcoin right now, which would you accept?

I expected a pretty mixed bag of responses. After all, it’s not that long ago that Bitcoin was making headlines in the mainstream media as it ascended to an all-time high of nearly $20,000 per BTC.

What I found, however, was that the vast majority of students I talked to chose the dollar bill in my hand rather than the digital currency on my phone. More than that, they chose the dollar without hesitation or question - already thinking about which snack they’d buy with it at the vending machine.

It wasn’t until learning Bitcoin’s value (~$5.4k at the time of filming) that the students changed their answers.

On the one hand, everybody I talked to had at least heard of Bitcoin before. Surely, we can thank the 2017 bull market for that. But on the other hand, this experience clearly showed that the general public understanding of Bitcoin is still minimal at best. Most people had no idea that 1 BTC is worth much more than 1 USD, let alone any of the reasons why Bitcoin has been gaining value over the years.

So, I think we found our answer to that question of if it’s too late to be an early investor in cryptocurrencies. We are still very very early in this process. You probably won’t get 1,000,000% returns in the next decade, of course, but 2,000%+ returns are still in the cards.

The typical advice these college students will hear is to make the safe play: put most of their money in low-risk index funds and capture those 6% annual gains. Nobody will mention that the average annual inflation of the Dollar is more than 3%, or that the practices that caused the 2008 recession (e.g. fractional reserve banking) have remained common to this day.

Bitcoin will be “too risky” for the average Joe for many more years to come.

And as long as that’s the case, the upside will be huge for those who understand what Bitcoin is and why it matters. But if you wait for everybody else to say it’s safe, the real money will have been made well before you join the party.

Do you want to become an early investor in cryptocurrencies but don’t know where to start? Join our community to learn about cryptocurrency investment.

Buying Marijuana with Bitcoin in Boulder, Colorado

Bitcoin has come a long way from the early days of the Silk Road. I recently went to Boulder, Colorado and documented one of the first ever legal Bitcoin transaction buying cannabis, showing that Bitcoin’s Silk Road use cases can live on outside the confines of the darknet.

The cannabis industry has been booming in Colorado ever since its legalization in January 2014, with dispensaries popping up just about everywhere you look. Recently, I made a visit to one of those dispensaries in Boulder, a small city tucked away in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just 45 minutes outside of Denver. I didn’t visit just any old dispensary, though. This pot shop, called Helping Hands Herbals, has set themselves apart from the hundreds of others in the state by enabling customers to buy marijuana using Bitcoin.

People paying for cannabis with Bitcoin is hardly a new phenomenon. You see, Bitcoin earned a reputation for being “criminal money” in its earlier years in large part because it was used in the Silk Road, a drug marketplace on the darknet that was founded in February of 2011. Silk Road users adopted Bitcoin as a medium of exchange because it gave them the freedom to operate outside the realms of the traditional banking systems, enabling safe and secure transactions that weren’t possible before.

In that regard, not so much has changed. With federal laws still restricting retailer access to bank accounts, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies present an attractive alternative to cash. As I found out at Helping Hands Herbals, paying with cryptocurrencies is pretty easy too. I simply scanned a QR code, typed in the payment amount, confirmed the transaction, and I was good to go. No third parties, no banks, and no credit card companies charging 2-4% fees to the retailer.

8 years and change since Bitcoin became the currency of the Silk Road, I made the first legal Bitcoin transaction to buy weed ever on record. Progress.

After making the purchase, I sat down with shop co-owner, Brooke (@bitcoinmom), and we discussed her motivation for accepting cryptocurrencies at the dispensary.

She starts by explaining some of the inherent dangers of running a cash-only business, which brings with it extra operational costs such as armed guards and high-end safes for storage. Simply put, digital currencies are a lot easier (and cheaper) to secure than cash. As such, Brooke thinks that it’s something more cannabis businesses should consider:

“Until the banking laws change and a lot of these cannabis businesses can get bank accounts, crypto is the perfect solution.”

Still, there are some obvious reasons why other dispensaries have been slow to come around. For one thing, it’s only a very small percentage of the population that owns cryptocurrencies at this point, meaning that most customers are stuck paying with cash regardless of whether or not the shop has a crypto payment option.

Perhaps even more difficult to overcome is the fact that most present-day cryptocurrency holders see crypto as an investment and are reluctant to part ways with their holdings for an everyday transaction. Fortunately, Brooke and her husband have a couple of clever solutions to this problem which should incentivize more customers to start paying with crypto at Helping Hands Herbals.

One solution is to encourage customers to use the Cash App to pay with Bitcoin by offering them a 10% discount if they do. This presents a win-win scenario, as the shop benefits from the added security and relative ease-of-use of storing the crypto, while the customer saves money when they buy bud.

The solution I liked the most, though, was something which should make it far easier for any Bitcoin enthusiast to part with a portion of their portfolio. As Brooke explains:

“If you come to our store and spend your Bitcoin, we’ll mark the price of Bitcoin when you paid. Then, if Bitcoin goes down in value, good for you… you got more bang for your Bitcoin. But if Bitcoin goes up in value, when you come back, we’ll split the difference with you and give you back half of the profits as store credit.”

For example, somebody who spends $100 of BTC at the dispensary when BTC is worth $5,000 would get a $50 credit if they come back when BTC is worth $10,000.

With a deal like that, Helping Hands Herbals makes a strong claim to being the best dispensary that accepts Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) not just in Colorado, but across the entire globe.

Based on Bitcoin’s recent price surge, I’m looking forward to going back soon to take advantage of some of that store credit.   


Want to show your affiliation to the cult of Bitcoin without being obnoxious? We’ve got low-key Bitcoin merchandise available for sale now, including the Bitcoin Moon tee worn by Kurt when he visited Helping Hands Herbals. Take a look!