I rarely do this, but today I will talk about where I haven’t succeeded. I am proud of sharing how I have built my online venture but I never really talk about the mistakes I have made while building it. While examples cited in this post are related to my online company, most mistakes I made can be related to any type of business.
Yeah I know, this one seems pretty obvious. We can all say that we should have started earlier; going to the gym, eating healthier, getting a diploma, aiming for a promotion, start a business, having a baby? But beyond the obvious, I mean something else; I should have started this venture when I had time, when I was in University.
The funniest part of this statement is that we always feel we don’t have enough time. I thought I was busy with my part time job and studies… man I was clueless. And this is what I want to tell you; I know that you don’t have much time right now to start your business… but it will get worse as you age!
At University, I thought I was busy. When I moved in with my girlfriend and started a full time job, it was worse. Then we had William and saw our free time diminish once again. And finally, Amy came at the same time I started my MBA! At that time, I didn’t have a second to spare for myself…and this is when I really started to think of my blogs as a business. So if I was able to create an online venture at the moment I thought I did not have a second to lose, imagine the online empire I would have built if I had started a few years earlier! Don’t use time as an excuse, just start working on your project right now!
As I mentioned before, I started blogging because I was passionate about finance and I always liked writing. I can picture myself writing everyday for hours. I guess most sideline income starts like this; it is born from a passion. The problem is that while you really love what you do, you don’t take it seriously. You don’t want to bother with a second job, you just want to have fun. The problem is that your project grows without a structure, without a clear vision and it may fall just because you are too lazy to establish your goals.
Taking things seriously doesn’t mean that you stop having fun in what you do. It just means that you are setting up a structure behind what you do. Having a hobby solely based on the fact that you like it won’t bring you anywhere. It will just, for a limited time, entertain you as driving an M3 at Need For Speed on a PS3 will do. I started to identify my blogs as a real business only 2 years ago… while I started blogging in 2006!
I once told you about one of my friends asking me what will be the next step for The Financial Blogger. Where did I want to go with my blog back in 2007? The answer was….I dunno! Funny enough, I have read this advice in many ebooks and on many great blogs but it never hit me until recently: your project needs a mission. In 3 to 5 lines, you should be able to identify what you want to do. Back in 2008 when we created the corporate structure around our blogs, the idea was pretty clear about what we wanted to do with the company. However, we didn’t bring the exercise to the ground level; identify the direction of each blog individually (thx to Baker on this one!).
This is incredibly important for anything you want to start. I now keep my focus in mind for each of my blogs before writing anything or starting any other projects. Before I write a post, I now ask myself 2 questions:
A) Why am I writing this post?
B) Why would you want to read this post?
The 2 answers must link to my blog’s direction. If not, I know that I am just filling the blogosphere with another ordinary article as we (bloggers) do too often. I don’t always write interesting stuff… but now I am aware of it ;-).
At first, I didn’t have much success with Adsense. In fact, I was making less than $100 per month (the minimum trigger to get a monthly check!). Then, I started to give more attention and wonder why so many people were successful while I was not making 10% of my revenue with Adsense. So I gave the big G a second chance and started to actually work on it. I am now able to earn the minimum payment trigger daily ;-).
The point of this advice is not that Adsense is great. The point is if it’s successful for so many people and not for you; you are missing something. Instead of using the usual excuse “it’s not for me”, try to understand why it’s not working for you while it works for tons of other people. It may not be the right option for your project (that’s what I thought for a long time), but you might be missing why it works for others too. Make sure you are not ignoring what is successful for others. Even if you finally explain why it can’t work for you, you will have understood how the system works and how to benefit from it.
Here again, I was too busy to take a look at what wasn’t working well within my blogs. We kept on growing and making more money month after month. We didn’t care much about keyword optimization while others were growing much faster than us… simply because they were tweaking their sites and we weren’t. We didn’t focus on becoming strong in our niche since we were growing. We thought it was good enough… man we were out in left field on this one!
Once you have a business up and running, the most important thing to do is to optimize every single part of it. This is how you can:
– Produce something better
– Make more money
– Save time (so you can produce higher quality and make even more money!)
My biggest mistake was to not consider how I was using my time until recently. Since time is a scarce resource, it’s important to know if your time is used to create value. Most everything you work on is useful, but some actions will add to your results, while others will multiply them. You must look at which actions create exponential results.
Biggest statement of the year! I should have quit my job when I could. I am not stuck between 2 realities:
– I know I can make more with my online company than at my regular job.
– But the comfort of making a 6 figure income working 4 days a week is considerable too.
This is what I called being stuck in the rat race deluxe. While the regular rat race forces you to live on a pay check to pay check budget, the rat race deluxe only provides you with more comfort… but in the end, you are still dependent on your job. It is now too hard to quit since I’m too scared to do it. If I had quit my job when I was making 40K, it would have been easier… well this is what I think now but definitely not what I was thinking at the beginning of my career! No matter how much you make per year, you will always be scared of quitting your job. Unfortunately, I don’t have any solution for this one…
The funny part about mistakes is that they are even more valuable than success. It’s always fun to share your good moves but it doesn’t teach you how improve. It think the important part is to make sure you review your mistakes and understand what has happened and how to benefit from it. When I hired my full time employee, I told her one thing; “I’m expecting you to make mistakes. Because if you don’t, this will mean that you are not doing anything to improve”.
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