There’s a bit of a dark side to what I learned in 2014 about running an internet marketing business.
Even though I worked far less in 2014 than I did 3.5 years ago when I first started working for myself, and even though I earned 5-10 times what I earned back then…
2014 was my most challenging year in business to date for a variety of reasons that I’m going to share with you here in just a moment.
And as with any challenge, when you push through to the other side there are huge lessons waiting for you as your reward. My hope is that in sharing them with you, you can build a more profitable business on the internet while feeling happy, healthy, and whole.
‘Focus’ is Bullshit
I got really side tracked this year buying into the notion that you have to FOCUS on just ONE thing in order to be successful.
The only problem with that is that I got further away, not closer to, what really matters to me.
I am fully on board with being PRESENT and focusing on the one thing that’s right in front of you.
If you can’t be present, you’ll never be successful anyway.
However, when I look at my life, the times that were the most fulfilling and the most fun were the times that I had a TON of stuff going on at the same time.
In trying to take more things off my plate so that I could ‘focus’ I had to give up the things that most people would say were ‘distractions’ that would really fill me up.
I stopped my coaching business.
I stopped building my own information products.
I stopped working on my passion projects.
It really started sucking the life out of me – to the point where I’d lost the energy to go do some of the stuff I really love to do that has nothing to do with business like hiking 14ers here in Colorado.
The Lesson: Human beings are not robots.
We can’t do the same things over and over and expect to remain happy.
Your side projects, hobbies, and things that are completely unrelated to your business are essential to your success.
Because when you step aside and indulge in what fills you up emotionally and spiritually, you come back to your business with increased enthusiasm, ideas, and intensity.
Your side projects are the lifeblood of your primary business. In fact, they’re like a gravitational slingshot. A slight “detour” can actually speed you up over the long run.
Too Much Isolation Will Crush Your Creativity
Sitting behind a computer day in and day out running an internet marketing business can become pretty lonely. You don’t have employees in an office you see every day. You don’t ‘see’ a lot of your customers in the flesh. It’s weird.
The strangest side effect of the sometimes intense moments of isolation is the stifling of creativity.
You need to be exposed to new ideas, new places, new people, and new conversations in order to grow a successful business.
I’ve made a conscious effort lately to talk to folks outside of my ’typical’ social circles, and that’s helped dramatically.
But at some point this past year I recognized that my world had gotten kind of small.
I was going to all the same company events, talking to the same people (from our company) and choosing not to venture out and mix things up.
This coming year I’m putting more vacations on the books in different countries to take me out of my comfort zone; and I’ll be going to more events that have nothing to do with the company I’m currently promoting.
The Lesson: Go to events outside of your industry. Cultivate relationships with people outside of your company, industry, or niche. You’d be surprised at what you can learn in the most unexpected places.
Learn the Skill Well Enough to Hire it Out
Outsourcing is awesome.
Outsourcing without at least a basic understanding of the process you’re outsourcing is just plain stupid.
In our blind enthusiasm to scale our business to unprecedented heights we hired someone in early 2014 to run Facebook PPC for us since we had limited knowledge in this area.
They had the credentials, the team, and a truly astonishing portfolio of past clients they’d produced impressive results with; so we went with them.
4 1/2 months and over $6,000 later we shared our results with colleagues who could tell us from experience if we were on track or not. They were appalled by how little we’d received and the cost per lead being generated through the campaigns being run for us.
Turns out I ran a few ads myself to try my hand at it and actually produced better results than their ad guy.
Even after months of tweaking and back-and-forth communication it was obvious they couldn’t fully grasp who our market was and how to reach them.
The Lesson: If you’re going to hire something out, you must at the very minimum have an understanding of what’s acceptable, unacceptable, and extraordinary in terms of results.
You should also have a realistic understanding of what time, energy, and resources are required to generate your desired results.
If you learn a process yourself, you’ll never be fooled by someone when you hire it out.
Strive for Automated Leads and Sales
I’m addicted for sure
My partner Nikki and I are bonafide free Facebook marketing rock stars. We’ve earned over $300,000 in profit from free Facebook marketing in the last two years on our personal profiles.
The only problem is that if I go on vacation and there’s no WiFi, and I can’t post on Facebook; the lead flow for my business starts to decline.
Or, if I want to take a week or two off and just check out… the business can maintain itself because we have good systems in place, but it doesn’t grow on it’s own without my attention.
Because of this I’ve already started devoting more time and energy into building up the organic search traffic of my various blogs, YouTube traffic, and other portals so that I can have the peace of mind that my business continues to grow whether I can get online or not.
The Lesson: Your active marketing efforts like social media, prospecting, and writing email broadcasts to your list cannot be ignored (especially when you’re first getting started). However, you need to always be creating passive channels to continue growing your list to give your business more stability over the long run.
Your Value Does Not Equal Your Bank Account
Your bank account is not a measure of your value in the world, it is only a symptom.
Tattoo that on your forehead if you have to in order for that to sink in.
No matter how much money you make in your business, it’s difficult not to judge yourself when things aren’t growing the way you thought they would.
That’s how 2014 felt for us. We still made well over 6-figures, but our business didn’t grow on the balance sheet, it just kind of stayed the same.
Feeling stuck sucks no matter what level you’re at.
But here’s the key:
If you made $1 million last year, and you made 1/4 of that this year…
… are you somehow ‘less’ of a person than you were last year? Or less valuable?
Heck no, that’s absurd!
The Lesson: You, your being, and the expression of you is the most valuable thing on the planet. Don’t let a few silly numbers written across the computer screen tell you that you’re anything less than that.
Leaving Money on the Table
You’d have to be crazy to think that you can build a sustainable business with just one single product offering, or line of products.
The trouble with expanding your offering is that sometimes you can stray too far from your core offering and confuse your customer base, and sometimes dilute the profitability of your other offerings.
In going to the opposite extreme of ‘Focusing Only on One Thing’ I discovered that we were leaving an enormous amount of business on the table – and we weren’t serving as many people as we could serve.
If someone didn’t want to join us because they’re in another opportunity, or they’re already in our opportunity but they’re on somebody else’s team – they weren’t able to work with us, or pay us, even if they really wanted to.
We didn’t have any way for them to do that.
Which is why in the last month we’ve begun offering coaching packages, as well as launching our own information products so that people who’ve wanted to pay us and work more closely with us for a long time can actually do so.
The results have been pretty wild. I wish we’d done it much, much sooner. I’m just glad we didn’t wait any longer.
The Lesson: Stick to your core offerings, but make sure that you create additional ways for people to work with you and pay you for your services. Offer things like coaching and paid live trainings to expand your influence, serve more people, and make a heck of a lot more money.
The Most Expensive Line Item in Your Business is Not What You Think it is
Sometimes it’s the things that you can’t see that affect your business the most.
It’s easy to track your income and expenses to determine the profitability of your business.
But do you know what the biggest income killer is in your business?
Anytime there are people involved, there’s going to be drama.
People do some really interesting things especially when there’s money involved and pride at stake.
Without getting into the details (which don’t really matter anyway) every time I let the drama of the people around me seep into my thoughts or even my conversations – it was taking away from the time I could spend being creative or productive.
As tempting as it can be to indulge in the drama, it’s just not worth it.
The one thing you can count on in this business (or any other for that matter) is that people are ultimately loyal to their own needs and desires.
When you operate from that point of view you won’t be surprised when people pull crazy shit on you, stab you in the back, or take advantage of you.
You’ll be prepared and ready to handle it with ease when it does come up.
The Lesson: Handle the drama, cut out the cancer, and move on. Any unhandled business or unresolved disputes becomes a massive drain on your energy, and also your income. Do your best to create an open environment with the people you work with so that people feel comfortable coming to you when there’s an issue.
If somebody is being an asshole – don’t let them be a part of your life. No matter what they say… there’s no excuse for it. It’s not a kindness to you to allow them to stick around so it’s time to let it go. You’ll feel much better and your bank account with thank you for it.
Bet on the Under Dog – Every Time
Of all the things I learned in 2014 from running an internet marketing business and building a team, this one is my favorite and keeps me hopeful for the future.
After having literally hundreds of conversations with new team members in the last 2 years, this little saying has given me so much sanity, freedom, and magic.
“The least likely are the most likely, the most likely are the least likely.”
The folks who talk the biggest game are usually the folks who don’t do anything.
The people who speak your praises and talk about how amazing you are can be the quickest to turn on you.
The Lesson: It’s always the quiet ones that surprise you. They may not have the skills coming in but they’re eager to learn without unrealistic expectations.
That’s why I love this business.
Because anyone can go from zero to hero with the right amount of effort, patience, and on-point persistence.
Now Over to You
Can you relate to anything I talked about here?
What’s ONE lesson you learned in 2014 that’s going to help you succeed in 2015? Comment below!
And please share this post on social media so others can benefit
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