For years, I was a software junkie. If the product got good reviews I bought it. I didn’t just buy based upon what I needed. I also bought based upon what I might need a year or two down the line. This approach got kind of expensive but I rationalized it. I told myself buying software was also sort of my hobby.
It seemed like a stroke of genius at the time. I grouped business and hobby together with a few “mental clicks” and blurred the line a bit that separated the two.
I was all set.
I guess I felt that using the same “tools” the pros were using would produce similar results.
That’s ridiculous, of course. It just took a long time before I could really see it.
The tool is only as effective as the person using it.
Business Models Don’t Always Work As Advertised
We can say the same thing about business models. Franchises may work great offline, but the same plug-n-play concept doesn’t generate the same results online 99% of the time online. You can’t just take a script and make your own Facebook or Twitter and get the same results. Even if you used the identical software
In the offline world, location is often key. Even with a great product.
In the online world, demographics can be a key factor.
For example, my friend is Spanish. His background is similar to mine but he speaks and writes fluently in Spanish. As a result, he attracts the Spanish speaking market.
One of my old partners was nearing his seventies when he passed away. Was it a coincidence that he attracted client’s over 50 (for the most part)?
Late to the Party
Speaking of software, one of my friends made a really good product. The problem was, he made it too late. The market was happy enough with the other products already on the market. I say “happy enough” because for various reasons, he just couldn’t break through. Timing was a deciding factor.
Looking back, he now realizes he was comparing his business at the time a little too closely with others. When you follow too closely, you often can’t see around the person in front of you. You inadvertently follow a person instead of a path. In his case it was the business in front of his.
They’re making the decisions and you’re following, trusting their process above your own.
The Follower Culture Sucks
The follower culture sucks. It creates lesser versions of the people in front. Life has enough challenges as it is without positioning yourself for failure. I’m saying this from personal experience.
We may start out as followers, but too many people are ending their as well.
I created my own products and services based upon what I saw others doing when I first started online almost twenty years ago. I learned the “follower” mentality in my college years from professors who encouraged following until you knew enough to make the transition to leader. That was before the Internet.
Honestly, I felt like Jimmy in Wonderland when build my first website in 1998. How did I learn? I bought expensive books (in the $50-$100 range). Tech books. Tech books as thick as phone books that were almost obsolete within 12-months of purchase.
I did that… and I followed.
As it turned out, the people I followed didn’t know much more than I did. They were just better at leading. Do you hear what I’m saying? The degrees of separation between the followers and leaders isn’t as great you’ve been led to believe.
In other words, no one knows as much as you think they do.
An early mentor told me that.
It took a decade before I really gathered enough evidence to validate that claim.
Back to what I was saying…
Thinking for Yourself Can Be Stressful
Doing your “own thing” is tough, mentally speaking. It means you turn off the tap on the advice vendors you’ve surrounded yourself with. At first, it’s like entering a room filled with people you don’t know.
You stop getting your advice from messengers returning from the front lines – you visit the front lines yourself.
You come to the realization that everyone lies or “adjusts the truth” to fit their own situations. The media lies, teachers lie, statistics lie, etc. You finally decide to make the journey to discovery for yourself.
You must learn (or re-learn) how to navigate your own life experience and trust your own instincts – which is hard to do if you’ve grown accustom to following or leaning on the instincts of others.
I Had to Choose Myself
Today I run a unique business. I help businesses build their online presence and I’m not locked into a single niche. I have clients in many different niches. I attracted better clients by being myself and building from there. The “niche down” advice didn’t work for me. I experimented with my own ideas, threw out the ones that didn’t work and kept those that did.
I’m not saying I didn’t learn from others. I did. That was the foundation. What I built upon that, however, only worked when I learned to step away from the follower mentality and look at what I was building from my own, unique perspective.
Today, I’m encouraging you to do the same.