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If I Had to Start Over

I hope there are parts of your story, as you start your entrepreneurial journey, that are different from mine. But I meet enough “rookie” business owners to know, they’re always going through at least a trace of something I experienced.

I started out because I was desperate. I was unemployed, with only a few weeks to find something that worked. I did not have time on my side, or a “plan B.” So, I decided to throw some marketing services at the wall, and see what stuck. 

Thankfully, something I tried actually worked.

The chances are, you’re in a similar situation. You have to make this thing work, or at least feel like you do. If you’re anything like I was, you’re looking for the “secret hack” or “magic pill” in order to shortcut your way to success.

The bad news is, there is no magic pill. If someone convinced you of its existence, then they were probably trying to sell you something based on the force of their personality… rather than proven results.

The good news is, I’ve made enough mistakes, and had enough successes, to show you tried-and-true principles for starting a new business.

There’s really no such thing as a “guru” who will make you successful in one day. But there are habits and models you can use to grow over time.

Why You Should Learn From My “Do-Over”

So, if there are no “gurus” or magic pills, why should you listen to me? I’m glad you asked.

  1. I DON’T Over-Promise and Under-Delivering

You won’t find promises of a magic pill, or snake oil here. Nor will you find a “12 Steps to Overnight Success” style of teaching, like you might see on certain Facebook ads. I’ve perused a few in my time. Many of them show you exactly what the “guru” did, and then detail the precise results you should expect.

The problem is, those guides are based on unique circumstances. They assume that customers and the world respond identically to the right stimuli. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 12 months, you know that life throws a curveball or two. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Starting a business is like stepping into a boxing ring. You don’t want the 10-punch combo, guaranteed to knock your opponent to the floor. What if they duck the first punch and your plan fails? Life will do that to you. Instead, focus on general principles that work over time.

  1. This is What I Would Do Differently, Not Philosophical Waxing

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

I’ve always been accident-prone, and learned more in life from hard knocks than breakthroughs. I want to spare you some of that pain. But, if you want the hard knocks … I won’t stop you. There’s always value in what we learn when we get knocked down. 

Nevertheless – if you’d rather avoid a mistake or two, read on.

  1. I Have Hard-Earned Hindsight

As an owner of multiple businesses who regularly creates training materials, I pride myself on the fact that I only teach things I actually do. I can’t have it any other way. I could not thrive as an ‘armchair entrepreneur,’ or a master of theories. I feel bad laying down to sleep at night, unless I know people benefit from the knowledge I have.

So, here’s your opportunity to learn what a regular guy, stumbling through business, discovered along the way. It might save you some pain.

Speaking of avoiding pain, this FREE guide reveals my greatest discoveries as an ‘Average Joe’ in entrepreneurship. Take a look to learn how to convert your big ideas into cold, hard cash!

How I Would Restart

What follows is a huge mindset shift, followed by ideas to implement it.

  1. I’d Focus On Profit First

This is the foundation for all business. Pop quiz! What’s the difference between a successful business and a failing business? As opposed to a failing business, a successful business:

  1. Has a smart CEO.
  2. Has a nice logo and fancy website.
  3. Has an expertly-written business plan.
  4. Makes more money than it spends.

The answer is D. A successful business makes more money than it spends. When you sit down to do your business’s budget, your goal should be profit first. When revenue comes in, the first line item on your budget should be “profit.” 

That’s right, profit is not the surplus that you have left over after all the operating costs are taken care of. Profit is the priority.

When I began, I thought in terms of survival, not profit. If I could start over, I would aim a little higher.

2) I’d Focus On Cash Flow, Not “Growing My Business”

Because profit first is the foundation, the other tips flow from it.

The number one mistake I see new entrepreneurs make is too much time spent working on their business rather than in their business. I understand, because I made similar mistakes.

Most “gurus” on my timeline try to hook me with the promise of “growing your business.” But almost none have the promise of “growing your cash flow.”

When you’re in the first stages, which would you want? A growing business, or higher cash flow? In other words, do you want growing assets, liabilities, employees, expenses, administration… or more money coming into your bank account?

A growing business is all well and good, it is a byproduct of cash flow, not the target itself.

When my first marketing idea worked, I followed up by spending way too much time working on my business instead of generating more revenue. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

3) I’d Spend WAY More Time Pitching

Outbound cold calls just work. They may not work 100% of the time, or even 15% of the time, but with enough quantity, they get responses.

When any online business struggles, and they come to me for help, I immediately ask them how often they pitch their services to new prospects. Nine times out of ten, that’s their issue.

Cold calls and emails are not glamorous, fun, or sexy. They might even feel scary and uncomfortable at first. During the first years of your business, commit to 5-10 cold pitches a day. 

When someone finally takes a chance on you, reward them by doing the very best job you can. Then rinse, and repeat. 

Soon, you’ll have a clientele and a network, and some breathing room to work on the flashier things like the website and logo.

If these thoughts make sense, you’re in luck: I have a whole miniseries of podcasts called If I Had to Start Over that goes into greater depth.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

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