This Guy Got Laid Off, Then Started Successful T-Shirt Biz

I got a copy of the October 2013 Reader’s Digest the other day. It was mailed to my grandparents who live nearby, but it wound up at my house. They told us to keep it since their eyesight prevents them from reading.

I hadn’t thumbed through a Reader’s Digest in years. (I’m still mourning the loss of their iconic covers that were plastered with a comprehensive table of contents.)

Anyway, as I browsed the pages, I came across this inspiring anecdote from angel investor Peter Shankman.

If you want success, you have to accept risk. I was working at AOL in the 1990s when the company let got of 300 people. I was one of them. The move Titanic was coming out, so I took my rent money and had 500 T-shirts printed that read, “It sank. Get over it.” If I didn’t sell those shirts, I was homeless. I sold 500 shirts in six hours and made five grand. Then I called USA Today and gave a reporter the story. I sold 10,000 shirts on the Web over the next two months and ultimately racked up 100 grand. That was my very first company.

Do not despise humble beginnings.

From the smallest seeds grow the biggest trees.

And you often don’t need much money to create a small business that throws off enough income to pay your bills.

With that in mind, my friend John Breese has published a Kindle book called Low-Cost Business Ideas That Get BIG Results.

It’s currently free on Amazon, so grab a copy of it today.

-Ryan M. Healy

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Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance copywriter, list manager, and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like,, and