Breaking Even is Never a Failure

Everybody talks about taking risks these days. Hell, I have “Risk Without Regret” tattooed across my chest.

When you really think about it, there are really only two outcomes when you take a risk: success or failure.

Risk isn’t always tied to money, but I think the majority of the time, money is involved. If money was removed from the equation, would that big risk you’re about to take really be risky? If you knew you weren’t going to lose money, would you go for it?

In my experiences, I think there’s a third outcome that isn’t talked about enough: breaking even.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but sometimes you break even. There are people that might consider breaking even as a waste of time or even a failure. But I look at it as a success.

So if there are three possible outcomes (failure, breaking even, success), and I see two of them as positives, then there’s a 66.7% chance that I’m going to win, in anything that I do.

I believe that breaking even is a success because I didn’t lose any money, and I gained a lot of experience in the process.

One of the stories that people bring up often is the time when I flew to California to buy a truck, then turned around and drove it all the way back to Ohio. That was one hell of a random solo roadtrip! Long story short…

  • I found a 1999 Chevy Tahoe on eBay for $8500
  • I messaged the guy back and forth for a week
  • We agreed on a price of $5999
  • I sent him a deposit through PayPal
  • I booked a one-way flight (that left 8 hours after I bought it) from Cincinnati to Los Angeles for $65
  • I took an Uber (use code “RANDYJ440UE” to get $5 off your first 4 rides) from the airport to meet him at a small beach cafe
  • We went back to his apartment and did the paperwork
  • I drove to Randy’s Donuts and hung out on the Venice Beach boardwalk for a few hours
  • I started the long drive back to Ohio and made it home a few days later

Random events like this are pretty common for me. It’s exciting to visit new places, travel last minute, explore the country, eat at new restaurants, grow as a person, etc.

But one of the main reasons I did all of this, was I needed a bigger vehicle to carry all of my vendor booth supplies and all of my Low Label merchandise. Cramming everything into my small Subaru car is doable, but that won’t work in every situation.

“But Randy, you could have found a 15-20 year old truck or SUV near you for at least half the price. You didn’t need to travel halfway across the world to get this exact one, and pay a lot more for it. I still don’t get why you did this.”

This is true. I didn’t need to do this. In fact, I don’t need to do anything. I chose to do it, for three reasons.

First, I love doing random things that cause normal people to think I’m insane. None of this is crazy to me, I’m so used to it by now. And so are all of my close family and friends. I’ve done enough random things over the years that they expect this kind of stuff from me.

Second, I really bought this one to resell it. I know the value of vehicles pretty well, after owning/selling 20+ cars and trucks over the past 20 years. I’m still deep in the custom auto world, but I still research vehicles all the time. I saw plenty of mint condition Tahoes selling for a lot of money (for what they are) on eBay and Craigslist and various Facebook groups.

I made an educated guess that in a worst case scenario, I’d be able to sell it for at least $6000. So no matter what, I was confident that I could get rid of it for what I had invested in it.

And lastly, I would come out of this experience with a damn good story. More than one story actually. Anytime I do something like this, there are so many lessons learned that I could write a book based on every risk (or trip) I take. And the stories are priceless.

So if I knew that the worst possible outcome was breaking even, how could I lose?

There were other things I considered too. Like the guy who listed it didn’t do a good job of marketing it on eBay, and I knew I could do better. The truck was super clean, and those are hard to come by in the Midwest, where most vehicles that old are covered in rust. I have a big network of like-minded truck fans at my disposal through my personal relationships and my various brands/social media accounts. Plus, even if I kept it, it was badass and I wouldn’t be mad driving it daily.

I picked it up in September 2016, drove it until the snow/ice came, kept it in the garage, started driving it in the spring of 2017, and kept it listed for sale the whole time. I started out asking like $10,500, and I’d let someone talk me down to about $9,000-$10,000.

The best part of selling anything is to not be desperate. Being able to hold onto things until the market is right or the perfect buyer comes along is crucial.

I’m sure we’ve all seen people that are going through a divorce and have to pay outrageous lawyer fees. They are in such a bind that they have to sell everything quick, like today. So they’d try to sell this Tahoe at $8000 and make a profit, but no one buys, so they drop the price to $6000 to move it quick and break even, but no one buys, so they drop it to $4000 just to have some money coming in.

I never try to get into those situations. Desperation is a quick way to lose money. But hey, we all go through shit at some point, just try to minimize it the best you can when possible.

So in March of 2017, I had a guy that was interested in trading for his 1987 Chevy C10. I really just wanted to sell for cash, but sometimes a really good deal just presents itself.

C10 trucks are still selling like crazy these days, so I knew it would be way easier to sell this truck, and if I decided to keep it, it’s more of my type of vehicle. But I basically knew I could get rid of it quick if I had to, and still make a profit.

We met up and looked at each other’s vehicles, drove them, talked some more, then decided to do the deal. Straight up trade. We met a few days later and got the paperwork done and we went our separate ways.

It was a very emotional day, a lot of random things happened.

I got rid of a truck that I had some epic memories in, I picked up a new truck that seemed too good of a deal to pass up, and my oldest cat passed away (losing pets is seriously the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with).

When anything good or bad happens, I usually head to Chipotle. I don’t even know why anymore, just out of habit I think. Maybe it’s a comfort space. So that’s where I went.

While I was sitting there, thinking about my cat, staring out the window looking at this random truck trade I just did, I was thinking, “Life really is fucking short. Why am I not doing more shit that I want to do? I’m used to doing random things. It’s time to take it to the next level.”

So I randomly booked a trip to Iceland while I was in the middle of eating. (I’ll write several posts about this trip in the coming months, don’t worry.) Ok, back to the main story…

So now it’s January 2018 and I still have that truck. In total, I’m still in it for the initial $6000 investment from the California Tahoe. I have the C10 listed for $12,000 and I know I can get at least $9500 for it any day. So I’ve just been waiting on the right time.

Well I think the right time is coming very soon. A lot of people will be getting their taxes back, and normal people can’t wait to blow their tax return the day they get their refund.

My plan is to list it on eBay and push it hard on a few other online marketplaces. I’m pretty confident it will easily sell next month. Which will give me a nice $3,000-$6,000 profit. Not too shabby, for something that I got a lot of use out of, and essentially borrowed it to make money.

I basically got paid to drive a cool truck around. Can’t beat it! But even if I sold it for $6,000 or $6,500 and broke even, there are a lifetime of memories that I have between these two trucks that are worth way more than a few grand in the bank.

Anyways, that’s my story as to why I think you have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you take risks that will cause you to break even in the worst case scenario.

Always be taking risks, but do your research and make them calculated risks. I’m not telling people to walk across a busy highway while they are blindfolded, no one should take those kinds of risks. Just do your homework, try to succeed as best as you can, but if you are afraid of breaking even, don’t be. I guarantee you’ll end up with way more in the end.

If you’re interested in hearing more stuff like this, be sure to check out my podcast here. You can also find it on all of the popular podcast apps, just search for “Risk Without Regret.”

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