What are the best tools to use if you want to promote, market, and build your online business? Should you remain a freelancer or build a small agency? Can you find these answers through trial and error, or do you need outside help?
These are just some of the questions you’ll have to deal with, possibly multiple times, over the course of your online business career.
Can You Fail Your Way to Success?
There’s an old story about how Thomas Edison failed a thousand times in his efforts to create the lightbulb. Afterward, a reporter asked him how it felt to have failed so many times to which Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
I once took a tour of Edison’s facilities here in Florida. He would sometimes sleep on a workshop table rather than lose time going home.
What’s obvious to me the more I think about it is the fact that Edison didn’t wait forever in between steps.
Most of us probably require a longer recovery time between failed attempts than Edison did.
There are 365 days in a year. Think about Edison’s perseverance in that context.
So, can you fail your way to success? You can if keep on keeping on until you get it right, you can. Edison was certain his success was inevitable. It’s quite possible that was the key for him.
Building Your Online Business
One day I was looking over a bunch of different online marketing tools. Some of them were on sale (it was during the holiday season if I remember correctly). The deals were pretty good, so I bought a few things that I thought might come in handy down the road.
When all was said and done, I had a bunch of new software tools and a lot of different options to consider. I didn’t feel bad about it at the time. It didn’t feel like I was wasting my money. It felt like I’d acquired some new, valuable assets.
Piles Upon Piles of Assets
Over time, this process repeated itself until eventually, a pattern emerged. Online business was becoming overly complicated. Maybe you thought I was going to say, “I wasted a bunch of money on stuff I never really used?”
Well, that too.
The point is, we’ve all been affected by the deluge of software products, services, information, etc., that are commonplace today.
The free-flowing highway has bottlenecked into a progress-stifling – traffic jam… with people inching ahead at a depressingly, slow pace.
Can you relate?
Why Does Everything Have to Be So Hard?
Maybe you’ve asked yourself, why does everything have to be so hard? I think we’re getting accustomed to making things more difficult than necessary. It’s almost become the new normal.
Here’s an example of how what I’m talking about. Imagine that you’re going to start a new YouTube channel. You find someone who has 500,000+ subs, and you decide to duplicate their setup.
Maybe they have an expensive lighting system, so you decide to buy an equally expensive one for yourself. Then, you buy software to help you make graphics that are similar to theirs.
You buy an expensive video camera and high-end editing software.
Finally, you’re ready to go.
You start creating content and what happens? Not much of anything. Three months later, nothing is really sticking. You start to wonder what went wrong. Did you misread the market? However you slice it, the wind’s out of your sails and you don’t exactly feel excited about making videos anymore.
That’s the problem with mimicking success businesses. More often than not, you can only see the advanced version of the business. That version and the one they started out with are as different as the night is from the day.
Keep It Simple When You’re Getting Started
If you’re just getting started, seriously consider keeping it simple. Using the YouTube example again – realize that most of the popular YouTubers didn’t start out producing “Disney” quality videos. Maybe they started out with a homemade lighting system or maybe they invested in a $100 ring light from Amazon?
The point is, most of them grew their subscriber base and views without having all the bells and whistles in place.
I’m just using YouTube as an example because it’s very popular.
With my first blogging site (2009), I blogged for about a year or so before the traffic started coming in. It took a few weeks for me to set everything up, and then about a year’s worth of content before Google rewarded me with the kind of ranking I was looking for. I’m talking about writing all the time. Every week.
Most platforms work that way. If you’re not digging deep, you won’t see much in the way of results.
In my case, the site creation took about 3 weeks. Add 12-months of content to the equation and we have about 13 months before the first rewards started trickling in.
What “Moving Parts” Do You Need?
This is a question you must deal with once and for all. In my business, I create three kinds of content… even though it feels more like two. I create written content like the kind you’re reading right now. I also make videos… and I have a podcast.
I use a program called Camtasia Studio for all my videos. For my podcast, I only upload the audio part of the video.
It’s great because I do all the above with 1 program.
I send out an email, too, to let people know there’s a new podcast or video available.
That’s about it.
I go on social media when I can and share links, meet people, and talk about what’s up in the online world.
If I want to make a course, I can use Camtasia Studio for that, too. Once you have your go-to tools, it frees up a lot of mental bandwidth you can use for other things (like making sales!)
Graphic Design Tools
A friend of mine is a social media manager. She learned a system from some of the top social media managers in the world. With just a few tools, she can create content like a machine for multiple clients – five days a week. She doesn’t use any automation tools and consistently outperforms those who do as far as engagement goes. She does everything with just a few design tools. That’s all she needs. She keeps it simple.
I personally own a whole bunch of design tools. More than half I hardly ever use. That’s what I mean by having “too many moving parts.”
What If Unlimited Refunds Were Suddenly Available?
Let me ask you a question… what if you could refund anything on your hard drive that you’ve purchased in the last four years? That goes for plugins, apps, software, AppSumo, WarriorPlus, ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, Udemy, Teachable, Fiverr, Amazon, etc.
In this imaginary scenario, with a few clicks, you could get an instant refund on any of the purchases you felt were a waste of your money.
What percentage of the purchases do you think you would return?
Half? Maybe more?
The question is, why do we follow this pattern? It’s really not too difficult a question to answer. We buy things we don’t need TODAY if we think there’s a chance we may use it in the future and the OFFER is for a LIMITED time only. Unfortunately, if the bad deals outnumber the good, not only haven’t you saved any money… you’ve lost it.
Just remember, you don’t make money buying… you make money selling.
Break the compulsive buying habit once and for all. It’s just another “moving part” that serves as a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.
Forward Planning Doesn’t Work Very Well
Many of the decisions we make are based on what you might call – “Faulty Forward Planning.”
Let me give you a personal example of poor forward planning. One day I said to myself, “I need to start selling SEO services in my business.” It seemed like a good fit because I was already selling web development, email marketing, and press release distribution.
So, I created a step-by-step plan. The result? The plan didn’t accomplish any of the things I thought it would. I would’ve had more success selling dog’s breath, most likely.
Here’s a good visual for you. Have you ever run up steps as a kid, but you were going too fast and missed a step? Maybe you took two steps instead of one, but just missing that second step by a hair? It’s not as bad if the steps are carpeted, but that’s not the point.
When we make our plans (planning forward), we often miss entire steps completely. In hindsight, it’s evident our plans weren’t thought out very well. So, you make another plan and the result from that one is not much better than the first one.
Let’s eat one helping of frustration and wash it down with a pint of confusion. Can you relate?
This kind of thing often plays out over a period of months or longer. The thought of starting over makes a lot of people throw in the towel and move on to something else.
This is an alternative. It’s called Backward Planning.
Backward Planning Can Work Wonders
About a decade ago, a business colleague (who was former special ops in the military) shared the backward planning technique. It was a technique they used in the military when planning missions, raids, or anything where having the right strategy in place was critical to success. Later, after getting discharged, he used this method to build and grow his business.
Although it sounded simple enough, in theory, I never used it in practice until much later. It was then that I discovered that backward planning activates parts of the brain that are dormant during the traditional method of “forward planning” or goal setting.
I hate to say it, but I originally threw the backward planning concept on the trash heap because it seemed to be a little too simple for there to be much to it. I also confused it with visualization (as it’s traditionally taught).
In other words, “I assumed all the wrong things.”
Well, my assumptions (I’m sorry to say) were way off of the mark.
Once I put my pen to paper to do my first backward planning session, something special happened.
As a planned, I found myself entering into a place of clarity – the likes of which I was unaccustomed to. Yes, I’ve had moments of clarity… but this was much different. It had a lasting effect.
Applying Backward Planning to a Business Problem
It doesn’t matter if you use a pen and paper or go digital. Either way, you want to refer back to it again and again. As long as you go through the recording process, backward planning can help you tremendously.
In studies, participants perceived they had a much clearer set of steps to reaching and hitting their goal when planning backward. They reported they felt much greater confidence in the choices they were making.
In short – we’re talking about the elimination of analysis paralysis.
If you have a clear destination coupled with an understanding of your current starting position, you will essentially be filling in the blanks. This is an alternative to being overwhelmed with options as to how to get from your current position to the end result.
There are a lot of success stories connected to this method. Maybe the reason we don’t hear more about this approach is a testament to its effectiveness? After all, if there’s really “gold in the valley,” would you advertise it to the masses?
Not if it’s the real thing.
Focus on What Matters, Forget the Rest
Years ago, I read an article that talked about the downside of having multiple talents. The article went on to say that multi-talented people were more likely to fail on average than a person with a single skill.
The reason for this was – multi-talented people have options, which makes focusing on any single one all the more difficult.
That’s the long way of saying that people who have limited options often experience much greater success. When you have only one option that shows any promise, you’re more likely to dig in and take that thing as far as you can. In other words, you’re all in.
A lot of multi-talented people don’t succeed until later in life because it takes them years, literally, to work their way through all the options. It’s not that they can’t succeed… they just do it in a bigger way further on down the road. There are exceptions, of course, to every pattern… but they’re just that. They’re exceptions.
Final Thoughts on Online Business and Distractions
Let me leave you with a few, final thoughts. Sooner or later, you need to remove all the distractions and unnecessary moving parts that are weighing you down.
Decide what matters and what doesn’t as it pertains to your business – TODAY. Then, commit to keeping your head down without getting distracted by what other people may or may not be doing around you.
Do the hard work that others are looking to get around. That eliminates a huge chunk of competition right there. Then, evaluate your progress every 90-days or so and then keep on going. That’s what it takes in today’s world to get things done and build a profitable online business.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your own thoughts, insights, or experiences on this topic in the comment box below.
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