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Confidence When Starting an Online Business

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Getting started in the online was a bit tough for me.

It was 2009 or so, and all of my friends already had nice jobs and paychecks, while I was still sitting in my mom’s apartment, trying to figure things out on my own and find my place among my online mentors.

I carefully analyzed every piece of online business advice I could find and dived into almost every “next big thing” tactic that the gurus were trying to sell.

My results? Few and far between. I was making next to nothing, and if it hadn’t been for my mom who was very understanding, well, life would have been difficult for me.

Obviously and not surprisingly, I wasn’t confident at all about what I was doing.

I started thinking that maybe I don’t have what it takes, that maybe I should abandon the web, put together a CV and send it out to a couple of places, so maybe I could catch up to my friends and secure myself a nice shiny job too.

But for some reason I decided to keep going.

I probably had some internal resistance telling me that “a job” wasn’t the right path for me or something.

Along the way, I stumbled upon Sylvester Stallone’s story. It taught me two things: (1) my situation was, in fact, nowhere near tough yet, and (2)  failure is just a step towards success .

I can’t explain why this particular story resonated so well with me, but it helped me regain my confidence and stop worrying about all the small and big failures I was experiencing. I knew that if I dedicated myself to doing something for long enough, eventually it would pay off.

And it has.

However. Looking back, I can honestly say that I spent way too much time running on willpower alone instead of having the right tools and mindset in place. And although it has worked for me, this can’t be the optimal way of finding your confidence.

Relying on luck is never a good strategy, and you can easily run out of your willpower much sooner than you’ll find any success.

Therefore, what’s a better solution? And is there a road-map to confidence when running an online business?

I believe there is, and that we don’t have to be wandering in the dark endlessly until successful.

So this brings me to the actual topic of this whole blog – finding confidence when running an online business.

I’m aware that I can’t give you a road-map to confidence all on my own. It’s way beyond me. After all, I’m just one guy, and no matter what I say, it will still be just one guy’s perspective.

That’s why I reached out to 13 generous experts from various niches and asked them specific questions on the topic.

Before we start, let me just be honest for a minute and say that I’ve gained an incredible amount of insights on entrepreneurship and finding confidence when going through these answers and preparing them for publication. I am very happy to be able to deliver this resource to you, and I’m also more than certain that you will get just as much value out of it as I did!

Let’s welcome the experts:

Cliff Ravenscraft Cliff Ravenscraft
Bogdan Condurache Bogdan Condurache
Ruben Gamez Ruben Gamez
Demian Farnworth Demian Farnworth
Adam Connell Adam Connell
Mike McDerment Mike McDerment
 
Bamidele Onibalusi Bamidele Onibalusi
 
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The road to becoming a confident online entrepreneur

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Step #1: Finding the right mentors

Some people say that getting business advice from our friends or family isn’t the best of ideas (unless they are entrepreneurs). However, when we’re just starting out building our “thing,” it is rather difficult to find knowledgeable people who would invest some trust in us and share valuable information (on top of the cliche “create quality content”).
How to find people worth paying attention to? People who can give us this much needed confidence boost, who will get us going and motivate us to take action. And what’s probably even more important, how to get them to pay attention to us? Can they really have that much impact on our confidence and therefore our businesses?
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
Finding a mentor has been HUGE in my life.

I was constantly on the lookout for people that were where I wanted to be.

I would do whatever I could to reach out, talk to, seem eager and know how much I valued and appreciated them.

One of the biggest problems mentors have (as told to me by many millionaires!) is that they give advice, but then the person listening doesn’t DO the advice.

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One of the best ways to get them to pay attention to you is to DO what they say!

And then tell them you did it, and how much of an impact it made.

And yes – they can have a HUGE impact on confidence. My first mentor made me cold call 50 people a day. He was like – you’ll get used to it! And I would never have pushed myself that much because it seemed too scary. He changed my life!

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Bamidele Onibalusi
Bamidele Onibalusi

I think the best way to start is by quoting the bible verse that says “By their fruits you will know them.”

I believe this is critical, because I recently ventured into fish farming here in Nigeria and quickly realized that success in the business mainly has to do with who you learn from; various people have various “secrets” to success, and the failure rate is generally high, but why I really followed my teacher was because of the results he is getting; he has the biggest fishes and makes the highest profit of everybody else I know (sometimes his profit is up to 150% in 6 months).

Follow your mentors based on the results they are getting
However, most of the others who are very opinionated about “what works” and what doesn’t are barely getting results; they have really small fishes, profit margin is low if there is any, etc.

Determining who is worth paying attention to is simple; look for someone getting the kind of results you are getting, and follow the person until you are getting your desired results.

Once you’ve determined the leaders you want to follow, the most effective way to get them to pay attention to you is to …

reveal your PASSION to them

If you are really passionate to succeed, you will give it everything it takes and you won’t care how difficult or ineffective it seems. Leaders see that, and they are ready to support those who have that kind of passion; look for tips they share freely online, passionately utilize these tips to get results, and showcase your results to them, letting them know it is thanks to them, and tell them you will like to learn from them in a closer way. This can be very effective!

Getting advice and support from the right people can impact your confidence as well as ability to succeed; sometimes, it is often the no. 1 most important factor.

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Step #2: Making your vision clear

The way I see it, problems with confidence are often connected to our lack of clear vision as for what we want to achieve (and how we want to achieve it). In other words, because we don’t have the right goals set, it’s not clear to us what to do next. This prevents us from getting stuff done and building our confidence along the way.
How to go about setting the right goals? How can someone get over the initial vague idea of “think about what you really want to achieve and make it your goal?” How to be specific and create goals that motivate rather than discourage?
risley
David Risley
The best way to get those goals is to break it down like a hierarchy.

Start out with with the big, grandiose goal that you have.

Then, beneath that, break it down into sub-goals or purposes.

Then you define plans to achieve those purposes.

And the plans are broken down into programs, projects, etc.

When you do it this way, then you can step back and see that the little tasks you’re doing are in alignment with the larger plans, and hence your purpose, and your goals. This allows you to get specific for what you’re shooting for (very important), but also know that everything has a direction to it.
natalie
Natalie Sisson
Note. In her answer, Natalie refers to the concept of “Painted Picture,” which was originally introduced in a book titled Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less, by Cameron Herold. Natalie teaches us why creating our own Painted Picture will help us get our vision cleared and our goals nicely defined.
Enter Natalie:
A Painted Picture is a clear vision of where you want your business to be, three years from now.

He [Cameron Herold] suggests you get out of your office or normal working domain (which for me is never normal) to actually write it.

It’s a really interesting exercise to go through each section of your business (and your life), writing out your vision in the present tense.

It’s powerful too. It’s as if you’re already there and you can visualise what the future looks like…which is the whole point.

It got me all jazzed up reading about what I wanted my business to become. Even though I’m not there yet, seeing it written down on paper, just gets me excited.

It took me about two hours in total and it was challenging, and also fun. I mean you get to let all your inhibitions go and dream up a grandiose vision for what you really want your business and life to look and feel like.

Natalie also shares:

When we ONLY focus on our vision for our business and our life, then it makes it much easier to do everything in our power to make that vision a reality.

Each of our goals we set, and the strategies and objectives that support them, suddenly become so much more doable, because we have the big picture staring us in the face.

We have the WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. Then we do everything in our power to stay true to it.

Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
I believe that it was Benjamin Mays who said:

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goals. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.”

This is perfectly true for me and talks about setting any kind of goals for yourself, be it small or high-sky. Of course, setting the goals high-sky will make it very hard to achieve them and will probably discourage you along the way, so I wouldn’t actually recommend that, but from my personal experience the key is to set intermediate goals or step-by-step goals, which are easier to achieve and will motivate you just enough to keep going.

I can actually share a bit of personal experience from my own career path: after graduating college and getting a major in Financial Banking & Insurance, I decided I don’t really like this field of work and wanted to do something in the graphic design business, which was just of a hobby for me at the time. This was something I have never studied seriously, and I didn’t know a whole lot about the industry, but I felt that this is what I really wanted to do and my long-term goal should be to have my own graphic design studio and be successful at it.

So …

I started splitting this long-term goal in smaller pieces

… knowing that this would take a lot of time and effort to get there, but having an achievable goal in front of me would motivate me just enough to keep going.

This got me to my first goal which was learning the trade, that I have achieved mainly by getting an internship job with a graphic design firm and also studying design tutorials and online classes. After a few months, I have learned the basics and “stolen” a few tips & tricks from my colleagues, so it was time to move on, setting a different goal.

Along the 7 or 8 years that had taken me to finally achieve my goal, I have set and achieved a lot of different goals, like: “getting a better paid job,” or “trying to be more creative” and “getting more creative responsibilities” and so on, until the skills, confidence and experience had all build-up enough to start on my own. Also, meeting cool creative people with the same drive as me, has finally helped me bite the bullet and co-found ThemeFuse (and PixelKit later on). Of course, this is a goal that I now consider an intermediate one, as I have moved past and set higher expectations, but still taking them one step at a time.

So, in my opinion setting smaller goals is the right way to achieve a bigger, high-sky goal.


Setting smaller goals is the right way to achieve a bigger, high-sky goal.
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Also, it’s very important that you have passion for what you plan to do, because without it, just setting the right goals will never be enough.

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Step #3: Going for a minimal viable product or not?

Nowadays, it seems like we’re witnessing a major product launch every week, or a success story that’s extremely impressive. As a result, we trick ourselves into thinking that whatever we aim to create has to be huge, has to have a ton of features and offer a ton of benefits. But then we lose our confidence when we find out that building something huge also takes huge time and huge resources.
How to overcome this? Should we go for a minimal viable product instead? Is it really that effective? And can we gain confidence by building a very simple solution for just one pain first, and then expand over time?
Demian

Demian Farnworth:

Much better to build the audience first. That way you can learn what they need and then give it to them. Most people and businesses have it backwards. They build the product first and then try to find the audience. Of course, there are exceptions. Regardless, do your market research.

Adam-Connell
Adam Connell
The problem with creating a product with a huge number of features is that sometimes we can overcomplicate our offering.

I’ve seen too many start-ups that roll out a product where it seems like even the founders aren’t exactly clear on how the product can be of value.

I’m talking about the kind of sales pages where you look and end up thinking “Yeah, but how is this going to help me?”

 
Sure, the copy comes into it but when you’re trying to solve too many pains all in one go, you can end up tripping yourself over.

I believe the best way to start off is to:

Step #1

Identify the biggest pain point …
Step #2

… Solve it first.
You will be clearer on who the product is for and that will reflect in how you position the brand.

The bonus here is that creating the product will take up fewer resources and you will accomplish it quicker.

You will be able to get feedback quicker and get early adopters on board.

This makes things easier for you in a personal way and also financially.

You can then shape the rest of your product roadmap around the bigger picture that you have envisioned for your product (as well as customer feedback).


When you’re trying to solve too many pains all in one go, you can end up tripping yourself over.
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Ruben

Ruben Gamez
I like the idea of starting with a smaller goal as a starting point. With Bidsketch, my original goal was to learn how to make money from a product. I went very niche because of this and planned to apply what I learned to the next product. Once I accomplished my initial goal, I realized that I could continue growing the product, so I simply set a new goal. I’ve done this four or five times now.

For me, this approach of smaller quick wins keeps me focused and motivated.

I think too many people aim for huge goals with unrealistic timelines. You obviously should have a goal that motivates you, but keep in mind that your goals (and approach) will change over time.

Mike McDerment

Mike McDerment

The answer to something like this isn’t binary – it’s about philosophy and approach and context, more than hard and fast rules.

It’s also about psychology – let’s start there.

Whenever you encounter something overwhelming – and there are lots of those things in a start up – you need to take a step back, and focus on what you can control.

… you need to take a step back, and focus on what you can control …
You can’t control what other people are going to do. You can’t control the fact that your competitors are massively outgunned in terms of resources, but there are things you can control – like managing to your next milestone. Stay focused there – however seemingly insignificant that milestone may seem because execution is just about everything when you are a startup.

WRT to philosophy, I think there are a bunch of ways to approach this. Philosophically, I think you want to play to your strengths. So when you are small, chances are any users you have are early adopters – people that found you before anyone and take pride in that. This kind of audience is encouraging and supportive as a rule – it doesn’t take as much to convince them like a mainstream audience.

The consequence: you will be celebrated (and you should celebrate progress), whereas the big guys need you to blow their mind or it’s like, “who cares?” and the difference is entirely about audience maturity and the philosophy and approach you apply to assessing your progress as a result.

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Step #4: Get only the essential education that you need

Every online business owner tries to learn and acquire new skills every day. But at the same time, we often lose our confidence when we realize how much there is to master and how seemingly insignificant we feel.
Do we need to be spending hours every day acquiring knowledge in order to become confident? Or is it actually a trap because we will never feel competent enough? How to tackle this and how to seek the truly essential education we need?
danny iny
Danny Iny
cliff

Cliff Ravenscraft

I think that acquiring knowledge is important and helps us bring additional value to those who follow us. However, I don’t see a direct correlation to how much knowledge you have to the amount of confidence that you have.

Many people suffer from what we like to call “Imposter Syndrome.” The fear that we are not competent enough come from the fear that others know more than we do and that we will be judged for where we are in the journey of our area of expertise.

I believe that everyone can confidently step out into this world, no matter where they are in the journey, and avoid the “Imposter Syndrome” by simply focusing all communication in these four areas.

Area 1
Start with what you have experienced so far in this area of expertise. Tell people “your story.”

In many cases, the more mistakes you’ve made, and and you share with your community, the more relatable and likable you will seem to those who are fellow strugglers on the journey.

Of course, you should also share your successful experiences as well. Don’t worry about those who will be offended by your sharing, telling you that you sound boastful. The fact is that sharing your success stories, and giving the details on how you succeeded, will do much to encourage and inspire others.

Share the challenges that you are facing now. Don’t pretend that now that you have a platform in this niche that you no longer face challenges. By sharing them, again, you are being more relatable to those who follow you. Also, there is a great chance that many, who are further along in the journey, may reach out to help you overcome those challenges.
Area 2
Area 3
Share what you are learning right now and how you plan to implement what you are learning.

Obviously, this means that you are actively learning new things. I make it a point to read books that are devoted to my personal and professional development. I listen to podcasts from experts in business, social media, technology, etc. I’m always learning something new. Being a great student of life makes you a great teacher for your community.

Share what you hope to accomplish moving forward. DREAM BIG DREAMS. Know where you want to go. Have a destination in mind. This is the only way that you will get there.

Also, if you don’t know direction that you are heading, why should anyone follow you?

Area 4
By focusing on sharing those four areas of your life, you can lead with great confidence! If you are always true and honest about those things, you can not be considered an imposter. Just be yourself and know, for sure, that many will criticise you for that.

You don’t need to spend hours a day, every day, gaining more knowledge to become competent and confident enough to deliver a message. You just need to grow some thicker skin and then put that skin in the game.

yaro

Yaro Starak
In my life as an entrepreneur true confidence has only come from achievement.

Tangible outcomes are what drive motivation. Of course learning is necessary – and some of the best education comes from the projects that don’t succeed – so you have to find a balance.

The best advice I can offer is:

Always acquire knowledge that is directly correlated to an outcome you are working towards today.

Only study what you need to know to solve today’s problems, and put into action what you learn immediately.

If you are unsure of what path to take, then the problem you have is a decision making one. You must study what you need to know in order to make the decision of what path to take.

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Step #5: Master the craft of planning

Lack of confidence leads to procrastination, and that sometimes leads to complete inaction. Unfortunately, the enormity of the project at hand – building a business – literally paralyzes many entrepreneurs.
How to master the craft of planning? How to create a good plan that breaks down a large project into doable chunks? Are there any quick hacks we can implement to feel confident about executing our plan one step at a time?
Adam-Connell

Adam Connell
I’m a firm believer that anyone can accomplish anything that they put their mind to, whether you lack self-confidence or not.

The key is passion; we have to believe in the product we create.

When planning out your project you need to break it up into smaller tasks and create a complete road map for your project. They need to be manageable otherwise they may start to become tedious.

It’s important that the plan is as thorough as possible, consider everything from creation to marketing and growth while considering the possibility that you may need to react quick to demand in future if your product takes off.

Consider a time frame but keep things realistic and allow yourself some room to manoeuvre.

Try not to let falling behind schedule phase you, you cannot account for everything and sometimes things don’t go to plan.

But, if you can consider potential road blocks before they happen and account for them you will make things a lot easier for yourself.

Prioritize your tasks but be prepared to re-evaluate these as your project progresses.

Most importantly, try to make things as easy as possible, consider what tools are available to make managing the project as easy as possible and think about how you can make your business as process driven as possible. You will love how much more efficient processes can make your business, you need them in place early on.
… try to make things as easy as possible …
Ruben

Ruben Gamez
I like to keep things simple, so my plans aren’t very detailed. I usually start with a goal and then work backwards from there. From a high level, what do I need to accomplish this goal? I end up with a rough idea of what needs to get done, then spend some time prioritizing.

At that point, I add about two weeks worth of tasks to my active list and only research as the need comes up – not weeks before the project has started, but right as I’m working on those specific things. The only exception might be with risky tasks. For online businesses the biggest risk is building something that people don’t want to pay for. So it’s probably a good idea to make your first task testing your assumption that people want to pay for whatever you’ll be providing.

Anyway, going back to planning, the idea is to move as quickly as possible and stay focused. I do this by creating a high level plan, prioritizing things that matter while delaying ones that don’t (like a business account), testing assumptions, and breaking down my work into four hour tasks (maximum one day tasks).

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Bamidele Onibalusi

Bamidele Onibalusi
I would first advise not to become too obsessed with planning, as that alone can deter you from your main goal of getting things done.

I believe the most effective way to go about this is by breaking down each task into the smallest possible task that will take the smallest amount of time necessary. Once this has been done, you should start working on the most rewarding tasks, that will deliver the quickest results.

Seeing these results will motivate you and give you confidence to proceed with your other tasks.

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Bonus round!

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Defeating confidence problems

What were the main confidence problems you experienced in your career and how did you overcome them?
John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas
risley
David Risley
Not having promotions work as well as I had hoped. Hey, it happens. The best way to overcome it is to have something pulling you forward so you don’t stop. For me, its my family.
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
I wasn’t confident in my value at first – and I had a hard time asking for what I wanted. Like when I found my mentor, it took all of my strength to send the first email to him!
Demian
Demian Farnworth
Thinking I could compete with the big boys and girls. You cure that insecurity with hard work, training, education, and experience. Everyone starts at the bottom.
Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
During my career as a graphic designer, I have encountered many times what I would call “feedback fright”. What I mean by this is getting a bit uneasy about showing the client a pitch or a design proposal that I have have been working on. Lack of confidence made me doubt my initial feeling of “wow, this is great stuff” and made me start questioning the whole design style, idea, execution, etc. “What if the client will not like this?” or “What if the idea is too bold or not bold enough?” are questions that fuel the “feedback fright” syndrome and can influence your work in a bad way, because what happens is you start changing the proposal without a real reason, making it worse actually.

I have somewhat overcome this (I still experience it from time to time) by making sure the foundation of my work is sound and that I personally like the outcome – because if you don’t like it yourself, there’s a big chance no-one else will like it either. Also, getting better at your job and accumulating experience will increase your confidence, so even if someone doesn’t like your work and gives a bad feedback, you can fight back with good arguments and ideas that come from experience and gut feeling, challenging the client’s feedback. I know this is very specific stuff, from a specific industry, but maybe you can extrapolate it to a more general business model.

cliff
Cliff Ravenscraft
My greatest confidence issue that I’ve faced in my business was pricing. Especially when I’m offering a new product or service that I’ve never offered before. Questions like, am I good enough, will believe believe I’m worth this price, etc?

I overcame these fears by putting my new products out there with a price that was just beyond my comfort zone and allowing my clients to tell me that I should be charging much more than I charged them. In every product or service I’ve ever offered, I’ve ended up more than doubling the price of what I originally charged. It was putting myself out there and not failing that gave me the confidence to grow in this area.

yaro
Yaro Starak
My main confidence issues originally stemmed from being so different to everyone else around me. All my peers went on from school to university to jobs. I had no desire to get a job, and I knew I wanted to be my own boss, but without any local role models it was difficult to believe I could pay my bills with my own business one day.

I have to admit during the first few years out of university I was very lost and had little confidence. However as I started to get results and slowly generated enough money to live independently I realised what I was doing was so much better than anyone else around me. Eventually I became proud of being an entrepreneur, and people came to me asking how I did it.

I learned an important concept I call the “success ladder,” which is one tool that can give you confidence, step-by-step, as you strive towards full independence as an entrepreneur.

The success ladder is a simple idea – you celebrate each step forward and use it as the building block for the next step. When you apply this principle every day, you see how the small tasks you complete lead to bigger results. It becomes stronger and stronger as more results come your way, until you reach a point where you feel as if your results are inevitable – a very powerful form of inner confidence.

Danny Iny
Danny Iny
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Getting instant confidence

What would be the one thing to do right now to gain some instant confidence in your business?
Demian
Demian Farnworth
Shoot low. Set some easy to achieve goal. Knock it out, and do it again. Those small success will build your confidence.
Jaime
Jaime Tardy
One thing I LOVED to do, was to have all of the kudos, testimonials, etc in one place. When I wasn’t feeling confident I would go back and read those. They were amazing people singing my praises, and while I was hard on myself – it was easy to see how much value those people got out of working together.
Bogdan-Condurache
Bogdan Condurache
The one thing i did was to make sure we built a product that people need and want. If you have something that people want, in our case great looking and perfectly working websites, you build a client base that appreciates your work and buys your stuff. And with this appreciation comes confidence, you start feeling more secure, more sure of your decisions and ultimately more successful. As i said earlier, having great foundations, like passion and skills for what you do, is the key to being confident and having a successful business.
yaro
Yaro Starak
Do something. I learned a long time ago that you must focus on output – on creation, not just consumption. Consuming things, whether education, or entertainment, will not lead to an outcome. Only creating things for the consumption of other people leads to the results you want, so get out there and create something for other people.
risley
David Risley
Generate your first dollar. From there, it gets easier.
Mike McDerment
Mike McDerment
This is a tough one – it really is a question that varies company by company, person by person, day by day. The answers for me have evolved over the years because the measures of progress have. To begin, it was customer validation in the form of feedback. Then it evolved into watching product usage, and eventually in time it was revenue added. But normally what gives me confidence are subjective things. For example, I get fired up when we hire someone awesome and see them getting ramped up on our business. That gives me confidence, because I know a super capable performer is going to be applying themselves to making FreshBooks a great company for other FreshBookers and our customers.
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Being a successful entrepreneur

Is it possible to be a successful entrepreneur without being confident?
John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas
Mike McDerment
Mike McDerment
One of the best things I ever read – sadly I can’t remember where – is that every “successful” person has had moments where they have doubted themselves and felt like a failure at the very moment the world is exalting their “success.” I know I’ve had moments where everyone around me thinks “this is a big success” and is patting me on the back, but for me it’s not like that – all I can see is the work ahead and it’s daunting.

So I guess what I take from this is, successful or not, we are all human – we have moments of doubt and fear. I think there is a tendency to believe this is not true of “successful” people. What I’d say to those who aren’t feeling confident is, that those internal demons are a source of motivation. Control them. Channel them. But don’t for a second think you are the only one. You are not the only explorer of the terrain you are on, and as lonely as the path of building a company can be, you have to keep that in mind and just focus on what delivering on the things under your control.

Adam-Connell
Adam Connell
I believe it is.

In some cases I’ve known people to turn their lack of confidence into a positive attribute and go on to do great things purely by striving to do better.

And for others, the confidence comes along when achieving success.

Wow, that was a lot of information to take in all at once! I’ll let you process this in peace, but remember to take action on what you’ve learned here as soon as possible.

Also, are there any confidence issues you’re experiencing right now? What one thing are you planning to do ASAP to solve this issue?

 In the meantime, don’t forget to share this with whoever might consider the information inspiring. 

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13 Successful Entrepreneurs Share How to Gain Confidence When Starting an Online Business | NewInternetOrder.com

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Shhh! …

What follows is something you surely haven’t heard before! In order to truly grow your business you need to:

Step #1
Step #2
Step #3
Step #4
Step #5

Okay okay, just kidding. These – and similar ideas – have truly been beaten down to death on the web as it is. Really, how much Facebook marketing advice does the world need?

But I digress, so let’s get back on track!

 
… scroll down for 14 non-obvious marketing tactics that work …
What I have for you here is a set of marketing tactics that are hopefully not that obvious. (Although, it’s very likely that you’ve heard of some of them before.) But what’s more important is that not all of them come from me.

I’ve been kind of fascinated with this topic lately. So I’ve decided to do a bit more research and find some truly inspiring stuff, which I can then expand upon and share here. So, the ideas themselves are something I’ve stolen from the likes of Neil Patel, Forbes magazine, Jeremy Clarkson, John Jantsch, and a bunch of other people.

1. Be a true-blood guy (or gal)

mma

Everyone’s way too nice on the web these days if you ask me!

No, wait. This doesn’t sound right.

Anyway, what I mean is that there’s a general belief circulating around that we should always be nice to all people (no matter what they say about us) and that if we have a critical – yet not fact-based – opinion, we should keep it to ourselves.

Bollocks.

This works against the one thing we probably all want to achieve – getting our personal brand across.

For the life of me, I can’t remember who said it, but it was something to the tune of:


‘People come for information, they stay for personality.’ – Who said this?
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And the problem is that if you want to be all things to all people, you will probably end up attracting no one.

Jeremy_Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson (twitter) is a great example here. He’s built the popularity of his show – Top Gear – to a worldwide phenomenon. Do people watch it for the cars? Sure, some of them do. But most of them watch it because it’s incredibly entertaining, and cars just play a supporting role (Oscar worthy role, but still).

For example, here’s what he once said about Sarah Jessica Parker:

“People think ‘oh she must be pretty, she’s on television’. She isn’t – she looks like a boiled horse.

Did he offend some people? Probably so. Did he make thousands of people around the world laugh? For sure.

So what I’m trying to convey is this: Be real. If you want to say something, say it. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

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2. Create products and give them away for free

salesman

I should clarify. If you’re in the physical products business then it’s probably more difficult to give those away for free. Like, for example, giving away shoes or refrigerators. But in the digital market, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

Let’s take a look at what happened with Quick Sprout a while ago. Previously, the site’s homepage was the blog (I think). Now, there’s an online SEO tool.

Neil – the founder of the site – said that the tool cost him $100,000, yet he decided to make it available for free.

Wow!

And yes, he did make it profitable eventually. Neil has a great funnel set up in the background. In short, everyone who visits the tool is also exposed to Neil’s Pro membership.

qs

Although Neil is clearly far ahead, I can mention a small success of my own too. It’s my Social Share Starter plugin. Since its release, it has generated hundreds of new subscribers and opened a couple of doors for me in terms of WordPress software projects.

“Free is the most powerful word in the English language.”

3. Break the pattern by publishing unusual content

pattern

At one point, virtually all websites hit a plateau and become predictable.

And don’t get me wrong, in a way, predictability is a good thing, especially if your content is predictably exceptional.

However, introducing something new every once in a while and breaking the pattern, so to speak, can work even better.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you’re known for publishing ultra-long content, publish an image post with a quote on it and no additional text whatsoever. See how it goes, how many shares it gets, and so on. Like this one:
you are right
  • If you’re mainly publishing text-only posts, try investing in an infographic.
  • If you’re publishing just your own perspective on things, try inviting someone who has a reputation in your niche and do an interview.
  • Need more ideas? Try either of these 52.

The idea behind this is to check if what you’re currently doing really is the best use of your publishing calendar, and if maybe your audience would actually resonate with something else even more.

This knowledge is something you can only get through experimentation. No case study on the web will give you reliable data whether you should or shouldn’t try Technique X in your content game.

4. Focus on just the essential info and invoke curiosity

curious

We often feel the urge to go into incredible detail when describing our services, products, or the thing we do for a living in general.

As it turns out, this doesn’t always work. Actually scratch that; it rarely works. The thing is that people don’t really need all that information when making a purchase decision.

For example, consider the following. Do you know what components your iPhone was built with? Do you know what’s the processor, who’s the RAM manufacturer, how many mAh does the battery have, and so on?

Most likely, unless you’re an iPhone freak, you have no clue, yet you still wanted to buy it when it came out.

Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.
It’s a similar story with all kinds of products. Your clients only need to know the essentials – how your product is going to enrich their lives.

And it’s not just me talking here. Neil Patel reports this to be the case as well. At one point, he shared that changing the landing page on his private site from long-form, in-depth content, to just the essential short form has given him 318 percent more leads.

It’s kind of sad, but people really don’t care about us or our stories. The only thing they want to know is how your content can benefit them. (Or maybe that’s not sad at all?)

5. Dedicate just as much time to writing your headlines as you do to writing your content

headlines

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. But please bear with me.

It’s a known fact in the world of publishing that headlines account for around 80 percent of a given publication’s success.

What this means in plain English is that headlines are more important than content. And it makes sense when you look at it.

At the end of the day, if your headline isn’t a success, no one will even get to your actual content.

So here’s what I encourage you to do:

Write 25 different headlines for every piece of content you create.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

This is not my idea, and to tell you the truth I was also shocked when I first saw it.

The reasoning behind it is that writing the first 5 headlines is ultra-easy. Writing the next 10 gets difficult, but you can still get through it. However, writing that final 10 will get you bleed through your fingertips.

It’s those final 10 headlines that can give you some gems – things that are not obvious at all. Things that you’d have never come up with if you hadn’t used all the common ideas on the first 15 headlines.

The secret is that people tend to resonate with things that break certain patterns.

6. Steal ideas from Reddit

reddit

Reddit isn’t called the front page of the internet for no reason. It’s also the best way to waste a Saturday afternoon, but that’s another story.

Reddit is an extraordinary source of content ideas that are interesting to people at this very moment. Now, I don’t encourage you to steal content in any shape or form. But I do encourage you to steal ideas. So if something works on Reddit, maybe it can work in some other form on your site as well.

Here’s how you can implement this:

  1. Look for things that are fast growing in popularity.
  2. Try identifying something about them that you would be able to do or present better.
  3. Release your own version.

I know that such a description is a bit generic, but I leave it up to you to find exact applications.

I will give you an example though. Here’s a popular entry from Reddit’s DIY section: http://imgur.com/a/fD4e4. It’s a guitar-shaped cat playground. The idea is great. The execution is okay-ish. But for someone in the carpentry business, building something that’s of better quality shouldn’t be a problem.

7. Invest in relationships with potential clients by doing free work

free hugs

First off, I like getting paid for what I do just as much as the next guy. That being said, it’s kind of impossible to make every hour of your work billable, especially if you’re just starting out.

The big problem here is trust, or lack thereof.

In other words, people don’t really trust your expertise enough to pay you for your services if you’re new to the market. To overcome this, you can do either of two things:

(a) Offer your services really cheap – so your clients don’t have to trust you all that much because the investment is small.
Not recommended.
(b) Offer your services for free.
Recommended.
The trick here is that if you start by offering your services cheaply, you will find it very hard to increase your rates later on – the clients will resent it.

On the other hand, if you start offering your services for free, people will understand that it’s not a permanent thing, and that you are likely to ask for money pretty soon.

However, what’s different now is that you’ve already built trust with them and proven that you can deliver results. This entitles you to ask for higher rates.

Speaking from my personal experience, offering free advice is what got me most of my initial freelance writing gigs. I talked about it in one of my guest posts at Be a Freelance Blogger.

8. Be a show off

ferrari

Note. Showing off isn’t in all people’s nature. And there’s nothing worse than a pretender who wants to show off but doesn’t really know how or why, so they just end up looking cheesy. So in short, if you don’t feel confident showing off, please skip this point.

Showing off is a very interesting marketing and promotion method. On one hand, it’s very easy to appear like a jack ass who’s just bragging about a new watch or some other gizmo. But on the other hand, it can reinforce your message and present a specific persona that resonates with your audience’s wants.

This can work especially well if you’re in the coaching business, or in consulting. The idea is to make people think, even subconsciously, “Hey, this guy has what I want to have. Maybe if I listen to what he has to say, I’ll get there too!”

Whether it’s a valid thought or not is another thing.

9. Reuse your existing results

recycle

During the course of your online career, you will naturally have better and worse days, better and worse content, that’s only natural.

But there’s always a small set of posts or articles that did exceptionally well and gave you big recognition. Maybe they even continue bringing consistent traffic through Google today.

So first of all, by all means, go out and find those articles. And then reuse them as a marketing tool.

A man much wiser than me once said that it’s easier to improve something that already works, than it is to build up something that doesn’t.

I couldn’t agree more!

Here’s what you can do exactly to reuse some of your best content:

Step #0

Well, you need to identify this content first. So go to your Google Analytics or Clicky (my preferred tool) and see which posts are the most visited ones on your site. Also, check for your most commented posts (you can sort posts in WordPress by the number of comments) and the ones that have brought in the most social media shares (you can do this via the Social Metrics plugin).
Make sure that there’s a specific call to action under each of these posts/pages. Either invite people to join your newsletter, download your thing, or buy your product (whatever it is you do).
Step #1

Step #2

Erase all distractions from the page. I encourage you to focus on convincing the visitor to do one specific thing. For example, if that thing is newsletter subscription then try making the subscription form the only possible route out of the page. Get rid of sidebars, and if it’s possible, get rid of the top menu as well.
Build additional internal links from other posts on your site to those that bring the most results. This way, you should be able to improve those results even more. After all, your popular stuff is popular for a reason, so if you manage to get more eyeballs on it, people are likely to start sharing and resonating with it more than with your average post.
Step #3

10. Guest post with a purpose

writing

Guest blogging is a very popular promotion method these days, I give you that. However, not many people use it as an actual element of their business.

Here’s what I mean. Every day, I see tens of guest posts where people link to their generic websites (from the bio boxes) or social media profiles. I’m sure this gets them some traffic and recognition. But at the same time, they’re leaving a lot on the table.

(I need to be honest with you and admit that I was just as guilty of doing this as anyone else.)

To give you a good example of things done right, consider this post by Milica Pantic. She explains how she makes money from guest posts directly.

In short, it’s all about these four main elements (in that order):

mitz
  • Picking what you want to promote with your guest post.
  • Deciding what you can write about to pre-qualify the people that are your target group.
  • Figuring out how you can point them to what you want to promote.
  • Finding the best place where to publish your post to reach the exact target group you’re looking for.

The main reason why guest posts are great for this sort of promotion is because you get to position yourself in front of any audience you wish. You just need to find the right website. There aren’t many advertising methods that give you this opportunity.

11. Try local offline marketing

mainstreet

Everybody’s hot about promoting their businesses on the web these days, and rightfully so. However, we shouldn’t forget about all the offline possibilities that are still there and can work exceptionally well.

What’s even better, oftentimes, they are really cheap to execute too. Literally, all you need is some creativity and a bit of time on Saturday.

Here are some of the cleverer things I heard people doing:

Leaving stickers in random places like bars, cafes, public spaces, basically anywhere where other people hang out.
Using chalk to advertise on sidewalks.
Donating branded bookmarks to libraries.
Leaving branded pens at places like banks, post offices, or any other place where people sign their names on pieces of paper. The idea is that the staff won’t notice everyone’s using the wrong pen…
Using sticky notes wherever it makes sense around town.
Printing out beer coasters and leaving them in your local bar.
Leaving your business cards everywhere. Trying places like public bulletin boards, restaurants (along with your tip), inside books at the library, and of course, when you meet a new person.

12. Find, and get on board with existing giveaways

giveaway

The web is chock full of various giveaways these days. And this is especially valid for all kinds of digital products. Be it plugins, WordPress themes, short e-courses or memberships, e-books, icon packs, you name it. People are ready to give them away left and right.
find giveaways that are related to your niche, then add one of your products to the giveaway
What you can do to capitalize on this trend is find giveaways that are in some way related to your niche and website. The best case scenario is finding something that’s directly in your niche, but if that’s not possible, then go one step up.
For example, if you’re in dog training, there might not be a specific dog training giveaway going on, but there probably are some giveaways or even contests focusing on dog owners in general. Maybe someone’s giving away leashes, treats, or some other dog-related stuff.

There’s nothing holding you back from picking one product from your own offer, and adding it to the giveaway. That way, you’re piggybacking off the giveaway’s popularity by itself. It requires almost no marketing on your part whatsoever.

Of course, the difficult part is contacting the giveaway’s managers and convincing them to include your stuff.

13. Supervise everything

supervise

Granted, this is a very counterintuitive piece of advice.

In today’s world, countless experts preach the idea of outsourcing and finding other people to do some of your tasks for you. (By the way, I’m generally preaching it too.)

But the thing we need to keep in mind is that we shouldn’t ever let anyone take over a whole department of our business for us.

For instance, let’s use content as an example. When you first started out, you likely created all of the content yourself. But as you grow, you might get tempted to invite other people on board – to hire help. This is all great and it’s actually the direction you should aim for. However, you should still be the person who’s making the top-level decisions.
be the person who’s making the top-level decisions
The thing is that as you build up your site’s presence, people come and identify with your content. They come to read “you” primarily.

This is a relationship very easy to lose if you disconnect yourself from the publishing process later on. Whoever you hire, will always have their own ideas and ways of handling things. And while you do want to get the most out of their expertise and skill, you need to be very careful not to lose that unique touch that only you can provide.

And this goes for all kinds of tasks you’re doing in your business.

So all of my rambling boils down to this:

Be the decision maker. Don’t assume that others will be better at it than you.

14. Be persistent

persistent

Let’s end this list with the simplest advice possible, yet at the same time, something that makes all the difference in our marketing efforts, and basically in anything we do in life.
Being persistent is what makes you successful.

Not talent.

Not hard work.
(If hard work paid off, slaves would be the richest people on the planet.)

Not connections.

It’s persistence.

You maybe know this story, but let me tell you about Michael Jordan.

Jordan was not accepted on his high school basketball team. This may not sound like a big deal, but what it actually means is that he was not a talented kid. I mean, clearly, no trainer in the world would say no to a talented young player who wants to be on their team.

Yet despite not being talented he became the biggest star in basketball history.

He did it because he was persistent.

Michael Jordan at Boston Garden
He even summarized this in one of his famous quotes:

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Let me end this post with this. If you don’t believe me, believe Michael Jordan.


Be persistent. Fail forward. Fail to succeed.
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Photo credits: superwebdeveloper / CC BY 2.0, Steve Sutherland / CC BY 2.0, wwarby / CC BY 2.0, ankakay / CC BY 2.0, stevenritzer / CC BY 2.0, mhauri / CC BY 2.0, gfreeman23 / CC BY 2.0, lydiashiningbrightly / CC BY 2.0, alisonchristine / CC BY 2.0, Hedgehog Fibres / CC BY 2.0, mario-mancuso / CC BY 2.0, jdhancock / CC BY 2.0, http://www.freevintageposters.com/2013/01/the-adam-forepaugh-sells-brothers_15.html

3300+ Words Worth of Non-Obvious Marketing Tactics That Work | NewInternetOrder.com

19

19-wide

I don’t usually repost stuff.

Actually, I never repost stuff.

But there’s this one short article I stumbled upon at Business Insider that hit a complete home run with me and I knew I had to share it with you guys.

The article’s so true.

It’s so accurate.

It’s so relevant to anyone who’s doing anything that can be considered “business.”

It’s so spot-on if you’re facing any kind of challenge right now.

It’s exactly the kick we need to keep us going and help us achieve great things in our lives.

That being said, the original presentation of the article did suck a bit – guess nothing’s perfect. So if I’m going to repost anything, I want to step the game up a bit and give it some top-notch presentation!

Honest note. If there’s anything you can read this week that’s going to have a significant impact in your life, it’s this.


19 hard things you need to do if you want to be successful

 

(1) you have to  make the call you’re afraid to make

(2) you have to  get up earlier than you want to get up

(3) you have to  give more than you get in return right away

(4) you have to  care more about others than they care about you

(5) you have to  fight when you are injured, bloody, and sore

(6) you have to  feel unsure and insecure when playing it safe seems smarter

(7) you have to  lead when no one else is following you yet

(8) you have to  invest in yourself even though no one else is

(9) you have to  look like a fool while you’re looking for answers you don’t have

(10) you have to  grind out the details when it’s easier to shrug them off

(11) you have to  deliver results when making excuses is an option

(12) you have to  search for your own explanations even when you’re told to accept the “facts”

(13) you have to  make mistakes and look like an idiot

(14) you have to  try and fail and try again

(15) you have to  run faster even though you’re out of breath

(16) you have to  be kind to people who have been cruel to you

(17) you have to  meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that are unparalleled

(18) you have to  be accountable for your actions even when things go wrong

(19) you have to  keep moving towards where you want to be no matter what’s in front of you

 

You have to do the hard things

The things that no one else is doing …

The things that scare you …

The things that make you wonder how
much longer you can hold on

 

Those are the things that define you

Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid

to excuse away. to pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success is that they do the hard things
that smarter,
wealthier,
more qualified people
don’t have the courage – or desperation – to do.

Do the hard things.
You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.

(Here’s the source. And let me just say, I’m so jealous it’s not me who came up with this post.)

Please share this list with whoever can benefit from it. They will thank you for it. I honestly believe this.

 Looking for some online business advice for normal people
and more resources just like this one? Jump in. 

[Real-Talk] 19 Things You Need to Do if You Want to Be Successful | NewInternetOrder.com

deadly-indicators

One beautiful day, I sent out an article to be published on a given website. I got a no. A fairly common thing. Not all posts find their home at first try, so I just decided to broaden my research and look for other sites that could be a good host for that article.

I found one and submitted it.

How surprised I was when the editor got back to me and told me that the article didn’t pass Copyscape (the plagiarism checker). What it basically meant was that someone else had previously published the article.

After connecting the dots quickly, I found that the article was indeed published by the first person I sent it to. They published it on a different site, with no attribution.

Contacting them didn’t produce much of an effect. So I’ve decided to give it a rest and share the article with you here instead. Fighting those kinds of people is never a productive habit. If you can afford it, leave such things behind you and move on with your projects (a general advice).

Having this lengthy introduction behind us, let’s focus on the topic at hand. We all desire some recognition, don’t we? Some online popularity, preferably profits, and overall stardom…things like that.

However, the road to success can be long and difficult, and at some point, we can stumble upon some disturbing signs that we might not be going in the best of directions. I’ve had a number of sites failing in the past, so I know what I’m talking about.

But you know what, I don’t mind. Failure is just a step towards success.

So what to do and what are the indicators of our website going south? Here’s my list and some advice on how to deal with them:

1. Content published irregularly

Every website (this also goes for business sites) should publish content as regularly as possible. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re publishing twice a day or once a week as long as you stick to your schedule.

Of course, you can change things up a bit over time, but don’t do it for no apparent reason every two months or so.

For example, publishing 4 posts one week, then nothing for the next month, and then switching back to 4 a week is NEVER a good idea. Your readers won’t be able to follow your blog because they won’t know what to expect.

In essence, predictability is nothing negative when it comes to publishing schedules.

2. No emails or other forms of contact

If you’re doing something good, chances are that other people will want to reach out to you and either congratulate you, or propose some form of a joint project that can present a completely new opportunity on its own. I, for example, was surprised when I was offered a paid freelance writing deal just because someone enjoyed my style of writing.

More than that, you will probably also start receiving some hate mail. I’m not saying that hate mail is something I enjoy seeing in my inbox, but it’s surely an indication that your content touches people personally, which, in essence, is a good thing.

Anyway, if there are no emails or other messages in your inbox at all, then there’s a lot of room for improvement.

3. No user feedback

A website exists as long as it’s alive, so to speak. A website lives when people read its content and interact with it in one way or the other.

This all depends on your niche, style of writing, and other things, but there should always be some form of reader activity. Some topics attract a lot of comments naturally. Others are more social-media-friendly (a lot of re-tweets). Others are more prone to bringing you a lot of direct emails (sometimes angry ones, like I said). No matter what it is, there has to be something.

If there’s no user activity at all, you’re probably in trouble.

4. Low-quality design

You really don’t have to be a designer to be able to tell whether a site is of good quality or not… However, when it comes to our own websites, we tend to NOT notice bad things about them, and we do it on purpose.

The best way of protecting ourselves against such problems is to start with a quality premium WordPress theme in the first place. Yes, you do have to spend some money if you want a quality design. Thankfully, spending it on a premium theme by ThemeFuse or Studio Press is a lot better investment than hiring a designer directly.

The truth is that visitors will evaluate your site just by looking at the design. If the design doesn’t seem professional, they will reach a conclusion that you’re not professional either.

5. Using only the “new” SEO techniques

In all seriousness, SEO indeed is the most powerful method of promotion online, especially if you’re working on making your business profitable directly because of its presence on the web. That being said, SEO doesn’t always work, and sometimes it can even hurt your site altogether.

Most problems happen when we try to do many things at the same time and make it our effort to test every new technique out there. The thing with new SEO techniques is that Google always needs a while to decide whether something is “cool” or “not cool at all.” Therefore, whenever you try something new, and then Google decides that the technique is not in tune with their guidelines, you’re cooked.

If you don’t want to lose your search engine presence, always make sure to focus on well-tested SEO techniques.

6. Poor rankings and low traffic

This is probably the simplest indicator of them all and it somewhat connects with the previous point. Google’s goal is to promote quality sites that are valuable to their readers, and to bury the weak sites at the same time.

If your site is not quality enough, Google won’t give it a good spot in the rankings, which will have a huge impact on the traffic.

If you’re not receiving the traffic you think you should be receiving (check via Google Analytics, or better yet, Clicky) it’s probably a good time to take care of some SEO and also to step up your game when it comes to publishing quality articles.

You can check your rankings through a tool like Moz or Raven Tools, or a number of free services available on the internet.

7. You have no real business plan

I know that business plans are not fun. To be honest, I hate working on anything that resembles a business plan in any shape or form. But sometimes there’s just no escape…

Generally, I advise you to treat business plans as guidance for yourself, rather then for some third-party entity that might be interested in your business. Your business plan must make your goal clear to YOU. That’s the only rule.

But what does it have to do with your website, right? Well, if you don’t have a thought through business plan then your website likely doesn’t have any action or promotion plan either. In short, your business plan is what is going to guide your actions regarding your website.

Once you have the plan ready, you can, for example, tell whether paid advertising is a good method of promotion for your site or not, and make many other similar decisions. Crafting a business plan is hard…but it pays off.

That’s it for my list of these 7 deadly indicators, but I just have one last question: What are you doing to keep your site on the quality side of the web and make your business profitable?

7 Quite Deadly Indicators That Your Online Business Website Is In Bad Shape | newInternetOrder.com

Just a week ago or so, I published an article on whether or not sending spam works for grey-area entrepreneurs. Just in case you missed it and you don’t feel like reading it right now, let me just say that in conclusion, spam works and brings serious profits.

Anyway, I decided to follow up on the topic and point out some specific types of spam we’re attacked with on a daily (again, that’s daily) basis. I’m publishing this list as a kind of a strange resource just to keep us on our toes when going through our inboxes.

Types-of-Spam

Now, the list has a particular order. I start off by pointing out the types of spam that have the best chance of tricking us, and then move on to some of the more obvious ones.

1. “Delivery fail” spam

The idea of this type of spam mail is to pretend that it’s sent from your email delivery server as a result of a failed messaging attempt on your part.

For instance, in a genuine situation, when you try emailing a nonexistent email address, your server will return the message to you along with a mail delivery failure header.

What spammers try to do is send fake such notices and attach a malicious file pretending to be the original message. So when you open this attachment, you get a virus.

delivery-fail

A general rule is to simply not open any failed delivery notifications if you can’t recall sending the email in the first place.

2. Sneaky spam

Sneaky spam is when the spammer uses a common social media notification subject to lure you into opening the email. Here’s an example:

sneaky-spam

The “You Have: [1] Unread Message” is probably the perfect book example of a sneaky subject line. The link inside the email is, of course, a fraudulent one.

And one more thing. I encourage you to click the spam button on anyone who sends such emails, even if it’s someone you initially opted in to get messages from.

3. The “Re:” trick

This is one of the older approaches in email spam, but it’s still easy to get tricked by it.

re-trick

The subject line is just meant to convince us that we are the ones who initiated the conversation. Then, if we open the email, the author moves on to something completely unrelated right away (usually to some offer).

4. PayPal spam and other payment-related spam

PayPal spam is when a spammer pretends to be PayPal and emails you about some changes in your account or some new transfers that need to be “authorized.” If you do get tricked and click the link in the email, you will be redirected to a fake PayPal site that’s been set up to steal your login and password.

Other payment-related spam messages work the same way, but there’s just no direct mention of any specific payment processor.

payment-type

5. General outreach spam

Every once in a while, you will get some poorly targeted email outreach. Like I did a couple of weeks ago; the screen I shared last time:

best-spam

This type of spam could actually work if only the spammer had done a better job at researching who are they sending the email to.

6. General affiliate crap spam

I really have nothing against affiliate marketing, but some stuff that people send out is just plain ridiculous. Like this thing, for example:

affiliate-crap

The way this sort of email gets created is fairly simple: (1) start with an unbelievably world-changing headline, and (2) promote some crappy affiliate offer right away.

7. “Biz op” spam

Very similar to affiliate spam, only the headline is more down-to-earth and the message usually tries to point us directly to a given site instead of using an affiliate gate.

biz-op

The main principle is still the same though: Make some money without breaking a sweat.

8. Fake gifts and prizes

The story is always the same … “Hey you won something, click here to collect the prize!”

prize

‘Nuff said.

9. Rolex spam

You’re likely to receive a handful of those every month. Rolex spam is still one of the big three most profitable spam markets (something I talked about in the previous post).

rolex

10. The old school of spam

The old school of spam is about stuff like Viagra and porn. This never gets old. And although these two are the most profitable spam markets, I don’t think that it’s because people get tricked into clicking the links inside the emails.

It’s much more probable that one in a couple of million recipients is simply in need of some pills or entertainment, and they click on the links consciously.

(Sorry, no screenshot here…)

11. ?

That’s it for my list. If you have any ideas for no. 11, don’t hesitate to let me know.


10 Types of Spam to Be Aware of When Browsing Your Inbox | newInternetOrder.com

fail

So a while ago, I launched a new blog. Something that was built because, and I quote my very first launch post:

I write this blog purely for myself. {Name} is something I want to start and participate in from now on. I’ve created this blog to document my progress, nearest plans and goals.

I even went on to say that:

[...] I don’t intend to focus on things like SEO and promotion. Essentially, I don’t care how popular this blog is or will be.

Quite strange, right?

A couple of words of explanation before I get any deeper into this, just so you know why I’m even sharing this story here.

The “whats”

  1. This was a purely personal project. This means that I indeed didn’t want to grow a community around it. I mean, I wouldn’t mind, but this was nowhere among my goals.
  2. This was my attempt at running something not-business-related alongside my everyday efforts in other areas.
  3. The project was about improving some aspects of my life and documenting the progress along the way. You could call it a personal development project.
  4. I won’t disclose the name of the project here because right now, there’s a fairly ugly imposter site under the old domain name and it does focus somewhat on the same idea. So, I’m guessing someone took the domain over once I didn’t pay to have it kept online.
  5. The site was live for 12 months.
  6. I published a total of 4 (!) posts.
  7. I didn’t stop pursuing the thing that the site was supposed to document, I just stopped writing about it.

What’s in it for you

Now, the most important question here is this: What’s in it for you and how can you learn from my unfortunate mistakes?

Here are the things I’m about to discuss:

  • Why I think that writing a 100% personal blog is very unlikely to stand the test of time.
  • How to find out if you’re heading towards failure or not.
  • How to launch a personal blog better.
  • When is a good time to pull the plug on such a site.

First order of business:

The problem with “I will just write” mindset

The number one thing I did badly was having an “I will just write” mindset.

I mean, I had the idea for the project pretty much figured out (I still have), but when it came to my content writing plan, there wasn’t any. I just thought that since I am engaged in this whole thing, writing something about it every other day wouldn’t be a problem. It was.

(And I’m really sorry because I know that this post might be a little harder to read due to the fact that I’m not disclosing what the project was about, but I don’t think it’s necessary here. After all, it’s the blog we’re talking about here.)

The thing I learned from this is that you always need a content plan, or in other words, a plan on how you’re going to create content exactly. And “exactly” is the keyword here. If you don’t start with such a plan, you’ll almost certainly fail.

How to stay motivated on a daily basis

clock

The main problem with personal blogs (at least in my opinion) is that the only audience is you. This has many consequences. One of which is that it’s really easy to slack off and don’t write anything for a week or so. After all, since it’s only you reading then nothing bad can happen anyway, right?

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a bigger responsibility to write for your online business website, and therefore, kind of easier to stay motivated. You have audience. You have views. You have revenues. In the end, not publishing content has a direct impact on your bank account. For a personal blog though, none of this applies.

The way to fix this is to cheat. More precisely, to cheat yourself into some daily work. You can do it by creating a habit of writing in the morning. In other words, every morning, right after breakfast, you write a blog post.

Creating such a habit has many benefits and ending up with some fresh blog posts is only one of them. For instance, it’s a great warm-up and a superb method of waking up and getting over the morning slowness.

(This isn’t a new idea from me; I actually shared it in one of my guest posts.)

The funniest part in all of this is that even though I do a lot of my writing in the morning, I seem to forgot about the idea when creating content for that personal blog. I think that by doing just this one thing alone – writing something in the morning – I would probably be able to run the blog consistently, instead of having just 4 posts on it.

Getting caught up in the setup process

Another problem I experienced was that, for some reason, I spent a lot of time on the setup itself. I mean, this was supposed to be a personal site from the start, so I really don’t have a clue why I spent hours looking for the perfect theme and set of plugins. It makes no sense to me now that I look back.

The correct way of doing this should be to just have the site launched on a default WordPress theme (really), which these days is Twenty Thirteen (the new theme in WP 3.6).

The only reason I can see why I didn’t do it like that is because I was worried that someone might find the blog and think that it’s shitty because of the default theme. A stupid worry, I know.

The no. 1 sign you’re just about to fail

The toughest part of facing failure is probably noticing that it’s coming your way in the first place. Or scratch that. The toughest part of avoiding failure is to notice it’s coming your way.

For a business, failure is very very easy to spot. Essentially, if you don’t have money, you’ve failed. For a personal blog, it’s not that obvious.

There is one thing though. If you’ve been running a personal blog and the following two things have occurred then you’re close to failure:

  1. You didn’t publish anything for a long while, and
  2. You broke the silence by publishing a “sorry I’ve been away” post.

The thing with “sorry I’ve been away” posts is that they are often your very last posts on the blog, despite the fact that they are the posts where you usually promise to get back to regular postings.

This is exactly what happened to me. I published my “sorry I’ve been away” post in April 2012, after 7 months of inactivity (the period between my post #3 and #4). This post has then become my last post ever on the site.

So the lesson for you is the following: If at any point in time you feel the need to publish a “sorry I’ve been away” post, your site is in serious trouble.

This moment is a good opportunity to make a decision. Should you pull the plug? Or should you keep going after slight re-evaluation of your goals? (A question to answer on your own.)

Conclusion

The lesson for me in all this is that personal blogs are not as easy as they seem. And even though it can be argued that there’s no such thing as failure with them, the fact is that not posting anything for 7 months and then abandoning the blog altogether is a failure by every definition.

I guess the main, in-the-nutshell, takeaway from the story is this: Treat your personal projects and blogs just like you’re treating your main business. Just because they are personal, doesn’t mean that they are unimportant.


Why Launching a Blog “For Yourself” Doesn’t Work – a Failure Case Study | newInternetOrder.com

Here’s an interesting comic strip:

Where Are All The People

So the question is: Are you in the same situation as Richard? Waiting for an audience that isn’t there? Or providing a product that’s simply not attractive to an existing audience?

3 seconds to answer

This is actually a trick question because even if that is the situation you’re in, you’re almost certainly not aware of it.

Unfortunately, only time can tell if that’s the case or not. And I regret to admit that I’m speaking from experience here. I have a track record of releasing things that were nowhere near what the market needed. There was either no market at all or the market that was there wasn’t interested in the products. (This goes back to my web design business -related career.)

The cause of “boiled potatoes” -like failure

(“Boiled potatoes” -like failure … That’s a thing now, by the way.)

In my case, the cause of failures was the initial excitement about the projects. In other words, be very cautious of any situation where you start thinking something along the lines of:

“Wow this thing has to work, I mean, it’s the most brilliant thing ever!”

or

“Why isn’t anyone doing this?! If I get started now, I can take over the whole market!”

…or any other similar excitement-driven thoughts just like these.

Although excitement around anything you’re planning to do is a helpful success factor, oftentimes, it can blind our ability to have an objective opinion. Also, it can exaggerate our expectations and even make an average idea look like a winning lottery ticket.

So, here’s what you can do to avoid the aforementioned “boiled potatoes” -like failure. The following list is a result of some of my soul-searching, research, and current practices. Even though the sub-headlines might look fairly general, I urge you to bear with me and read on as some of the info inside might surprise you.

The power of research

Nothing, I repeat nothing is a more powerful tool/principle when building your online business than the habit of researching before anything else.

When you look at it, the whole thing is actually really simple. Here’s a cheat sheet:

So you have a brilliant new idea? Research if there’s any audience that could be potentially interested in it.

So you think you have a solution to a common problem? Research if there’s anyone who has already solved it.

So you think you know how to write articles with an interesting spin? Research if the crowd is right for this kind of content (something described by Greg in his post on freelance marketing).

So there’s no one doing what you are planning to start doing? Research if there was anyone doing it in the past, and if so, research why they stopped.

So you think you can do a given task better than someone? Research if there’s any actual need for doing the thing better.

Etc. Etc.

In a nutshell, don’t ever base your product/business decisions on your own impression or belief. Research is the tool that will answer every question with raw data.

Stealing ideas and executing them better

lock

I’m one of the few men who believe in stealing ideas and even openly admitting it. And no, this isn’t a clever intro that I’m just about to flip into a pretty standard advice. I really mean it. Steal ideas. Execute them better.

The reason why I don’t feel bad about my attitude is because the ideas themselves don’t matter. It really is the execution that turns an average project into a success.

And we don’t have to look far for examples. The most popular operating system out there – Windows – has been designed with an idea-stealing principle. Almost everything you see in Windows has been initially dreamed by another company/individual. What Microsoft did is took that thing and made it better.

And better is the real keyword here. Simply stealing an idea and executing it in the same manner, or even making it poorer will get you nowhere.

Stealing ideas that already proved to be good (ones that aroused some interest and so on) makes your research much easier. You can look into the current audience, find out what they really need, what they struggle with, and then design your improved solution.

Getting expert advice

Although an idea might seem great after the initial research, it can still turn to be very difficult to execute due to some technological limitations or budget-related ones.

If you just want to start your online business with a good yet cheap to develop product, you really have to get some expert advice on it.

Now, since you’ve done your research at this point, listing some experts by name shouldn’t be a problem. What you should do now is contact them and ask for advice.

Some common worries:

  • Why would anyone pay attention to me? Well, most people, even the brightest and most noble ones, still like to be referred to as experts in a given field. Most of the time you will get an answer if you ask a question from an apprentice-to-expert standpoint.
  • What if they steal my idea? No one will even think about stealing your idea, really. And even if they do, remember that it’s the execution that matters, so they won’t be able to do anything with it anyway.

Sniffing around

This step is about reaching out to influencers and your prospective high-volume users.

In short, what you have to do is some more researching and coming up with a set of contacts that are likely to enjoy the thing you’ll possibly be developing and then ask them some questions.

Mainly, ask them if they’d be interested in a tool/service/______ that would do ______ and help them with _______ for $X/free.

The exact tone of the message is up to you. But, the idea is to get a yes or no and preferably some feedback regarding the possible improvements or the things that those users would really need in relation to your product.

This phase – sniffing around – lets you arrive at the basic structure of your minimum viable product.

Developing a minimum viable product

mini-product

Basically, a minimum viable product is something that takes care of the main need of your average user. Just one need or problem. At this stage, it’s really not about developing something that will be all things to all people.

Personally speaking, not having a minimum viable product was the cause of my early failures.

Therefore, one important thing I want to emphasize here is the following. The minimum viable product is not about something that does one simple thing just for the heck of it. It’s about something that does one simple thing that is essential to your user base. Finding and solving this thing is where success happens.

Once you have this covered, you can build on top of it and end up with something that’s massively valuable to your audience.

There’s quite a lot of info on minimum viable products and their creation on the web already, but I promise to publish something of my own too. This will be a kind of a case study as I’m in the middle of building such a thing myself. I hope we can all learn during the process.

In the meantime, that’s all for now. Feel free to let me know if you ever found yourself in a “boiled potatoes” -like situation.


So … Where Are All The People At? | newInternetOrder.com

If I were to take a wild guess, I’d say that there is way over a hundred fairly popular online business courses available on different sites. While this does sound great for anyone who wants to learn how to take their undertaking off the ground, there is a “slight” problem with the quality of many of those courses.

To be more exact, when you’re searching for a new program to join, you can’t really know for sure if the thing is going to be quality or not. Everybody has great promotional videos, sales messages, testimonials, and what not, so that at first sight, every such program looks great. But it’s only after you’re two or three weeks in that you’ll know if it’s actually working out or not.

And what if it doesn’t work out for you? Well, if you’re dealing with a scumbag marketer then they are very likely to say something like:

“This product is only for people who are willing to work hard and take dedicated action. This isn’t for those who are searching for a quick fix. The results I’m presenting are not typical.”

Even though such message doesn’t sound that bad right away, it’s actually a mind trick. And the trick is simple: if you fail, it’s your fault (because you didn’t work hard enough).

I’m sorry, but if 90% of your “students” fail to achieve the promised outcome then it’s not their failure, it’s yours – the teacher’s.

Enter the genuine

nsdAnd this is where Niche Site Duel (NSD) comes into play. This is the second edition that’s just started. It’s run by Pat Flynn and focuses on teaching you how to create a niche site and make money with it (sorry for simplifying the idea, Pat, if you’re reading this).

Anyway, Pat understands that the best way of teaching is by example. That’s why in NSD, Pat builds a niche site himself and presents every step of the process with detailed descriptions, tutorials and so on.

In short, NSD is on the top of my online training resources revolving around the online business for two reasons:

  1. It’s free. I love free.
  2. Pat is not afraid to take the responsibility for what he’s teaching. He’s decided to lead everyone by example and if the program fails to achieve results (which it won’t) then Pat will be the one to blame.

What the rules are and where to join the game

There’s a hub for the duel at http://www.nichesiteduel.com/. You can get the most updated info, guidelines, rules, and so on, there.

Here’s a shortened version:

  • Everyone starts by picking a keyword they want to tackle with a new niche site.
  • Getting a domain and launching a site revolving around this keyword is the next step.
  • The final step is to make this niche site the go-to resource for its niche.

Obviously, that third step is the tough part where the action happens.

Now, why is it called a “duel?” Because it’s a race to see who can get the best results and “win” the duel.

Are you in?

Granted, this isn’t a course per se. It’s more action based. This means that every participant learns along the way by looking at what others and Pat are doing, and then in the end everybody wins.

The only question is: Are you in? I am. Feel free to connect with me on the NSD forum.


There’s a Thing Going On … It’s Called the Niche Site Duel, Here’s Why You Should Participate | newInternetOrder.com

puffIt’s funny how easy it is to mess up something that you’ve been building for months or even years. Although maybe funny is not the word I’m looking for… Peculiar – that’s the one!

Anyway, today it’s all about taking a broader look at our businesses and our personal behavior as online entrepreneurs. All this so we don’t have to witness our efforts go down the drain one day.

Quite surprisingly, most of the serious business-related problems are of internal nature rather than a result of some external happenings. In other words, WE are the most common reason of our business’ failure. It’s not the competitors, the market, the audience, or whatever else you might be thinking of.

This list is exactly about these internal problems that lead to the failure of your online business. In short, it’s how we can prevent ourselves from ruining our businesses.

1. Thinking you’re unique

I don’t know who am I stealing this expression from, but one of the most predictable aspects of human nature is that we all think we’re unique. And even more predictable is the fact that when you were reading the previous sentence, you got the impression that it was still about other people because you are truly unique nonetheless.

Well, here’s the thing. We’re all much less unique than we think. And the same thing goes for our businesses.

Chances are that no matter what your business offers, other people already came up with a similar idea in the past. More than that, they are probably still here figuring out how they can outperform you. So, the only way you can succeed is not by thinking how my business idea is going to make me win, but how my execution of the idea is going to make me win.

This is an important mind shift and it actually makes us much more aware of the situation we’re in. Once we abandon the idea of being unique, we can focus on other much more important down-to-earth aspects of running a business.

2. Tomorrow

Time flies. Like hell it does.

Chris Rock – one of the best stand-up comedians of our time (my opinion) said one interesting thing:

“When you have a career, there are not enough hours in a day. But when you have a job, there are too many hours in a day.”

Even though the way he says it still makes it funny, it’s as true as it can be. And the quiet killer in this whole thing is the mindset of doing things “tomorrow.” And I don’t mean that consciously planning things to be done at a later time is bad. No. I mean that treating the practice of postponing things as a way of solving them is nothing but walking on thin ice.

Tomorrow never comes. If you want to get something done, get it done today.

3. Too much focus on education

We obviously need some business education. But the keyword here is “some.”

Information overload really is a plague these days and it’s really REALLY easy to get completely lost in consuming yet another blog, another article, or another e-book. And you do all this without actually taking any action along the way.

This is something I was guilty of doing at the beginning of my career. I felt like a shark in a suit… like I knew everything there is to know about business. The only problem was that I had nothing to back up my “expertise.” I’m quite embarrassed to admit that it took me way too much time to get out of this mindset.

Anyway, in short (catchphrase definition):

Disregard education, take action.

Which brings me to:

4. Pursuing the next big thing

This was my other problem some time ago (damn it, I don’t know what I was thinking back then).

Basically, anyone who’s just getting into business or is experiencing some sort of difficulties in business later on (in general) is very prone to any “magic-bullet solution” that’s being advertised to them. This is a consequence of focusing too much on education. Quite simply, by going after a lot of information every day, you will inevitably stumble upon some magic-bullet solutions sooner or later.

The simplest way of not getting tricked into believing that this particular thing is going to save your business is to ask yourself a question: Does it sound too good to be true? If so, then it most likely is.

5. Acting like you’re a big shot

In any business, no matter what your niche is, you will come across different types of people. There are people who are just starting out, people who already have a position on the market, people who actually are big shots, and a small number of top players – the rock stars.

Now, for some reason, almost anyone who’s somewhere in the middle of their journey thinks that they’re a big shot already (it probably has something to do with the idea of being unique). And sadly, I can see this happening all the time.

Just to give you a simple example, if you’re a little guy, writing to Darren Rowse and asking him to exchange guest posts with you won’t probably play out all that great. Another similar scenario is reaching out to Neil Patel and offering an email marketing cross-promotion.

The thing is, if you’re just starting your pursuit of online business greatness and you want to do something with the big guys, you will have to offer them significantly more than what you’re asking for in return.

6. Disregarding your peers

I wish I knew this earlier, but growing together in a small mastermind group or even with a close business contact is significantly easier than doing it alone. Whatever stage you’re at, find your peers, reach out to them and propose some kind of cooperation that will benefit all of you. Create a syndicate or something, I don’t know.

The idea is that once you are all big shots, you will have a great team to do business together, instead of having to look for new contacts from scratch.

7. Believing; without taking action

Last but not least, I want to tackle this “law of attraction” bullshit. And I don’t even have the energy to elaborate on this. I just have one thing to say, here goes:

If anyone thinks that all they need is to believe in success then it serves them right…

Here’s a better idea, one that actually works: Don’t think. Do.

Okay, I should probably apologize for making this sound a bit negative. But I’m really sad to see people who can’t find any results in online business purely because they spend way too much time researching things, planning things, believing things, learning things, buying things, content-marketing things, thinking about things, postponing things and so on.

As counterintuitive as this might sound, sometimes doing things first and thinking later really is the superior way.


How to Mess Up Your Online Business in Just 7 Simple Steps | newInternetOrder.com

A while ago, I received an email from a man by the name of Aldo Baker. He was promoting an infographic titled “The Modern Marketer: Part Artist, Part Scientist” and asking me whether I’d be willing to share it with you through my site.

Although 99% of such email gets an automatic “no” or, more often, no answer at all, this one got me thinking. Is online business art or science? Or maybe, a little bit of both?

First of all, let me give credit where credit’s due; here’s the infographic that Aldo wanted me to share (so mission accomplished, Aldo):

artist-scientist

Now let’s answer the main three questions:

  • Are you an artist? Or
  • Are you a scientist?
  • And finally: Which is best?

The concept of twofold nature

Actually, this concept of twofold nature is commonly known in the business world; mostly when we’re dealing with partnerships where two co-founders build a company together.

I think that this happens naturally rather than as a deliberate arrangement. But as it turns out, many partnerships consists of two completely different personas: the creator and the person that gets shit done (or at least tries to get it done).

The creator is the creative mind (duh) of the business. They have a lot of ideas, a lot of new projects on their mind, a lot of new ways to expand the business and so on.

The executor is the person who takes it upon themselves to turn ideas into an actual reality. They are the ones with some kind of methodology, with a productivity system, with tactics and so on.

Such partnerships are often much more effective than one-person businesses. The interesting thing is that venture capitalists seem to have understood this a long time ago. Quite frankly, if you’re looking for some funds, you are more likely to get it if you have a co-founder. As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to succeed if you have two sides of the spectrum of personas covered – the creator and the executor, or in other words, the artist and the scientist.

So, which are you? You must be able to determine your persona especially if you’re running a business on your own.

Are you an artist?

Before I can attempt to tell you which persona is best, let’s list some symptoms of each “condition.” Therefore, you might be an artist if you:

  • focus on what to do,
  • like to list the opportunities,
  • tend to brainstorm hundreds of ideas all at the same time,
  • like to get into every new project on the horizon,
  • like to get into every new promotional method,
  • like to join every new social media site,
  • prefer to act on impulse,
  • like creating new content,
  • enjoy reaching out to new contacts,
  • feel a bit unorganized at some times,
  • prefer to work at different times of the day when you’re in the zone,
  • get a lot of inspiration from regular everyday activities,
  • like to consume content (posts, advice, books, etc.),
  • buy things because you like them.

There’s probably a million more traits like these, but I guess we can stop here and switch to the other persona.

Are you a scientist?

You might be a scientist if you:

  • focus on how to do things,
  • like to execute on one opportunity at a time,
  • tend to break down individual ideas in detail,
  • like to finish projects you’re already a part of before getting into new ones,
  • like to test and examine the promotional methods you have,
  • like to master social media sites one by one,
  • prefer to act based on data,
  • like measuring the efficiency of content,
  • enjoy growing existing relationships,
  • feel too organized at some times,
  • prefer to work on a fixed schedule even if running your own business,
  • get a lot of inspiration from how others do they work (mentors, peer, etc.),
  • like to consume only the content you need for a specific purpose,
  • buy things because you need them.

Do you see the pattern? Even though the artist is not as obvious as sitting in front of a blank canvas and painting some flowers, and the scientist is not the one with the calculator, a clear picture starts to present itself.

To put it simply, artists in business like to think that they can only succeed if they try a thousand of different things and then see what works. Scientists like to get into just a handful of things and perfect them until they bring success.

So, I’m sure that by now you can choose sides…

Which one is it?

For me, I’m the scientist.

Which is best?

I’m really REALLY sorry for giving you this sort of answer because I know that a kitten dies whenever someone says this, but IT DEPENDS.

You see, the kicker is that if you’re 100% scientist or 100% artist, you are doomed to fail.

An artist without at least part scientist will never execute plans as effective as possible. In most cases, they will find themselves jumping from one idea to another until the end of time.

On the other hand, a scientist without at least part artist, will always miss new opportunities and will not be able to move on or kill a project when a better one presents itself.

So what to do, then? Be a Jack of all trades?

The answer is simple (yet not easy). Here goes:

  1. Identify your persona.
  2. Start researching the other persona.
  3. Spend at least 25% of your time doing the things the other persona would do.

For example, since I’m the scientist, I know that I have to review the list of activities for the artist and focus at least 25% of my work time doing things the artist would do.

Now, I have to be honest with you … this is a theoretical concept, but it seems to be an accurate one considering the fact how business partnerships work and how every investor is more likely to work with partnerships rather than solo-preneurs. Also, every business preacher says that business is both art and science, so it kind of makes sense that you should learn how to be both if you want to succeed.

That being said, there’s also the short path – find yourself a counter-persona and make them your business partner (probably a good topic for a separate post).

Anyway, what’s your opinion on this? And most importantly, are you the artist or the scientist?


Online Business Battle: Artists vs. Scientists | newInternetOrder.com