You know everyone thinks we’re fools, right?
To most of the world, having an online business is a joke. It isn’t a career. It isn’t a way to make real money. It isn’t a tool for changing the world or making a difference.
They think we’re crazy (or crackpots, or worse).
Try telling your family, friends, or coworkers you want to quit your job and work from home helping people by making content, consulting, and having a website to sell your services, products, or knowledge.
They’ll smile politely and ask, “Does anybody make money from that?” (Meanwhile, your co-workers will begin measuring your office for their new furniture and your relatives will wonder how long it is till you wind up being on unemployment).
Oh some people may get lucky here and there, and accidentally invent the next Uber, but the naysayers point to the vast majority of people who start websites (blogs, podcasts, etc.), and it becomes a hobby, a diversion, or a fad that’ll come and go; something that ambitious entrepreneurs with big dreams will sink money into and it never goes anywhere.
But it nags at you. You see others doing it, and you’re like “why can’t I do it?” So you search, read, and try, and keep pouring your passions and time into it.
Your family and friends want you to have dreams. Yes, they want you to chase them. Yes, they want you to succeed. But they worry about your desire to be an online success. They tell you to be “realistic.” They’ll say, “If you want to improve your life, you should get an advanced degree,” or perhaps that you should write a book, or switch jobs, or God forbid – work harder at work to get a raise.
Nobody says to you, “You can fulfill your dreams by pursuing an online business.”
Nobody can make money that way.
Yes, they can. I’m going to show you how it’s done. It’s not as easy as the “gurus” make it out to be, but it’s also not impossible for someone with intelligence, fortitude, and most of all hustle, to start an online business that makes 30, 50, 100 thousand or more per year – and much of it largely through passive income.
First, let’s get a few things straight about what “passive income” means, because once we’re both on the same page about this term, the rest of what I’m going to say to you will be considerably more credible. What most people define as “passive income” is an income received on a regular basis, with little effort required to maintain it. Even the IRS defines passive income this way.
That may be the way the Government likes to think about it. That may be why your family and friends are so skeptical – I mean essentially what people think of it is as “money for nothing.” If you’re going to be successful as a webpreneur (entrepreneurs that start online web-based businesses), you have to stop thinking this way. What “passive income” really means to you is this simple formula:
I will stop trading my time for money hourly and instead trade my time for the value I create for others.
What does this mean in reality? It means
When you tie this all together, what are we talking about then?
Building online businesses that leverage automation allowing transactions, cash flow, and growth to happen without requiring a real-time presence.
Or perhaps most simply, we could say this… Build once, sell many times using the computer so I don’t have to be there every time the product/service is sold.
Does that sound like free money to you? Because I tried doing it for three years before I finally cracked the code, and it sure as hell didn’t feel like free money to me – and it definitely doesn’t feel that way now even.
The reason why friends and family are so skeptical, and your fellow employees are measuring your office for their new drapes, is because they all know inherently two things – nothing in life comes for free, and most get-rich-quick schemes are just that – schemes. So I want to deal with the “myths” of developing a passive income business online, and I want YOU to be able to tell your friends and family why what you’re doing most certainly isn’t some pie in the sky dream.
Generating a stable, passive-income, business online is most certainly EXCEPTIONALLY HARD WORK. Nothing in life is easy if it’s worthwhile, and generating a system of computer programs, websites, advertising funnels, and fulfillment mechanisms to attract, convert, sell, and “re-sell” people is something that veteran online marketers know to be a very hard and complicated business.
Many internet marketers and online entrepreneurs will try to persuade you to think otherwise. They will say all of this is easy – and if you just do what they did, you’ll be swimming in money. Why? Because they’re trying to make money from false hopes. I’m here to tell you the truth: Online business is hard. You can indeed make money, but it’s going to take intellect, stamina, fortitude, and hustle to make it happen. I’ll do my best to guide you and give you the information you need, but you have to take the actions daily to make it happen. YOU have to invest in yourself and your customers to generate value for them and then capture some of it for yourself. This is most certainly NOT money for nothing (and chicks for free).
Anyone who says to you that this doesn’t take time is lying. It’s truly that simple. The reality to generating a successful online business is that it is a process – a process of steps of growth and development. That process is not instantaneous. While it may seem like some of these “gurus” just suddenly were kazillionaires – the reality is that building a stable business online will take months if not years. Rand Fishkin of Moz.com, for example, said it took six years before Moz finally was recognized as the authority and leader in SEO.
Now, I’ll be frank – when I heard that from Rand I almost threw up. No way did I want to wait SIX YEARS for my business to finally make it. I didn’t have that kind of time. I will say that I think you can grow very fast, especially based on what you know and how good you are at execution. But I do want to say that I find it highly unlikely you can go from zeo, to a business that makes six figures, in less than 6 months. Even then, I will say that to make the 6 months to 100K a month, you need significant investment in advertising and near flawless execution in building a product/service that is tightly integrated with your audience’s needs. It’s not impossible, but it’s also not likely.
My first online business took about three years of trial and error before it was generating enough income to support my family. There was nothing easy about what I had to do to get that business going.
But in relative terms, my journey was “quick” because I decided to opt-out of “the work-till-sixty-five-deferred-life plan” and instead make my own path as an online entrepreneur. You can do it too, but it’s going to take hard work and honestly it won’t happen in days or weeks. I’m going to do my best to help you shave off time and avoid the errors that I made, but it’s still going to take time.
Again, anyone who says this to you is lying. And let’s talk about “money” in the broadest sense. While it’s true you don’t necessarily need to spend money in advertising – you’re going to need some resources. You’re going to need some money to pay for things like web hosting and stock images and an eCommerce solution of some type. You’re going to need money for whatever your product costs to prototype and put into production.
But again, given other types of business endeavors, the financial barriers to entry to starting your own online business is very low. Moreover, when you decide to invest in YOU, the rewards both short and long term are going to come to… YOU instead of your employer, or someone else.
But it is nearly impossible to start a business with NO money. I used to get these people when I worked in advertising that would come to me and go “now, if I spend 10K in advertising, I need that to generate 2 million dollars in revenue. Can you do that?”
No. Put simply no.
The entirety of the universe doesn’t work that way. You don’t light a firecracker and generate a bonfire. Building something that generates a lot of energy (and money is business energy) requires a process that builds successive value for others. The hardest part of being an online entrepreneur is going from ZERO (nothing) to ONE. One to two… two to three… is considerably easier.
While you can indeed use systems of leverage… essentially you’re asking can I cause an atomic explosion smacking two atoms together. Simple answer? No, I can’t. It takes alot of transactions and a building set of transactions, to cause that “large explosion” that entrepreneurs want. That said, you can indeed build these systems that will build, until you get the precious “thousand true fans” who are willing to pay money to you for the results you generator for them.
Thus, you’re going to need SOME amount of money – perhaps a few hundred dollars. And for the resources you lack, you’re going to need to hustle and spend your TIME, which is the most valuable resource you have (something you’ll soon understand as you get more successful).
This video from Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the best I’ve ever seen on the hustle. If nothing else, you have to be prepared to invest in your TIME to power through the challenges you’ll inevitably face.
So now that we’re all on the same page about this is hard work, takes skill, isn’t something that just “happens,” and isn’t something that requires luck. Let’s talk about the process of building this online business that is going to let you live life on your terms, and give you the ability generate value from anywhere you want to be.
I use a simple phrase, and it encapsulates the basic strategy every successful online entrepreneur employs (whether they realize it or not).
It may sound stupid, it may sound childish. It’s not. It’s how you build a successful online business.
If you want a business that you can be on the beach and do on your laptop, then you have to be well known to some group of people, and you have to be selling them things that generate value for them that they are willing to pay you for that opportunity.
That’s it. It’s that simple. But it’s “that simple” the way Golf is “that simple”. In golf, to win, all you have to do is put the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than all opponents. Easy right? Which is why there are less thn 20 thousand people on the planet who can do it with any skill.
It’s not impossible. But it does require that you leverage your passion, your knowledge, and your focus to market your ideas (and your products are embodiments of your ideas), so that you can demonstrate the value you can create for others.
You have to get known, and you then can reap some of the value you create for others.
The first hurdle a successful online entrepreneur is going to need to overcome is obscurity. Most businesses fail because they have no idea where customers are going to come from. They have the field of dreams belief about how the world works – if I build it, people will come.
Here’s the thing, you can make a successful business two ways.
Every successful business falls into one of those boxes. Take Apple, for example. Apple sells the iPhone to a HUGE number of people – largest company in the world. Take Ferrari, as another example. Ferarri sells less than 10,000 cars a year (which is smaller than even ONE model of cars sold by most car companies by a factor of TEN), but it sells them at an exceptionally high price, reflecting the exceptionally high value they generate for a limited client set.
I do not know of any business that creates tremendous value for a tremendous number of people. You cannot simultaneously maximize your value and your customer base size. It’s inherently impossible because of the constraints on your resources – you have to pick one.
Most entrepreneurs that start online attempt to generate tremendous value to large numbers of people – and that’s why they fail.
Instead, you have to start building a small, but passionate group, around what you do. You have to “get known,” and that means you spend most of your time making connections and helping people by demonstrating your value. You have to bring your ideas and value TO THEM and FOR THEM. Cab Calloway said, “My audience was my life. What I did and how I did it, was all for my audience.”
You have to build that audience, and it’s going to be hard. Making something new is always hard. Jon Morrow said it best I think, in his article “On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas,”
If you want to succeed, you can’t wait for the world to give you attention the way a cripple waits for food stamps to arrive in the mail. You have to be a warrior. You have to attack with the madness of a mother whose child is surrounded by an army of predators. Because, let’s face it, your ideas are your children. Their future is as tender and delicate as that of any newborn.You can’t just write them down and expect them to succeed. Writing isn’t about putting words on the page, any more than being a parent is about the act of conception. It’s about breathing life into something and then working to make sure that life becomes something beautiful.
This website is going to arm you with the ideas and the strategies to do that – but you have to start building an audience. The path for how to do that is well understood. For me, it boils down to the Saquatch Music Festival “Dancing Man”:
One guy does his thing. Some others join him. Others begin to see how “fun” the whole thing is – and next thing you know – it’s a full-blown affair.
If you want people to read your blog, listen to your podcast, buy your software, buy your online course, hire you for coaching, WHATEVER, the easiest and most reliable path to that is to build your audience. You have to get KNOWN. You have to be VISIBLE. The value you provide people has to be VISIBLE. Then people will be attracted to you.
The most destructive thing I think in business entrepreneurialism is this idea…
Do what you love, and the money will come.
Ok, let’s test that idea.
What if you really love making buggy whips? What if you made the best damn buggy whip anybody ever saw?
Is the money going to come?
In my “two ways to make a successful business” discussion above, did you see one that said, “Build whatever you want, people buy it”?
That’s not by accident. That’s not how any of this works.
I cringe when I hear budding entrepreneurs talk about how their offering is so unique and how the market will just fall in love with them. I know how that story is going to end most times – broke and upset.
Now some entrepreneurs can indeed anticipate what a market wants, build it, and become wildly successful. But for every Apple, and Uber, and Facebook, there are two hundred kabillion trillion other stories that went like this “I launched my product into the world and nobody gave a damn.”
You never hear about those stories – but I do. How the this shoulda done that… how the other thing didn’t do this… how if only I had been able to that…
It’s sad. And I don’t want you to be one of those entrepreneurs.
There’s only one way to viability in a business and that is you must create value for others and have some kind of mechanism of capturing recompensation for that value you create. So I say “sell stuff” because quite frankly, I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to be selling. My audience will tell me.
My first offering (which I still offer by the way), is bespoke coaching. I work with a select group of people that *I* choose to work one on one with them to get their businesses going. Is it what I would have thought of to offer?
My audience told me that’s what they wanted to buy. So I made it – and it sells – and at some point in the future, I’m going to close the program because it will be too much for me to work with so many people.
When you have an audience, they tell YOU what they want to buy. My other product offering, Audience Marketing Strategies, was based on what my audience members TOLD ME they needed. They wanted some coaching that was easier to digest, cost less, and gave them the tactical knowledge to launch their business to a new level.
Ok – so I made it. It’s exactly what they wanted – even when they couldn’t articulate it.
When you know your audience – you can build things they want.
Now, there is a caveat to all this – Ford said it best, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they’d have told me a faster horse.”
Nobody said to Leonardo da Vinci “You know, what we really need is a funny looking woman painting.” Nobody said that – ever. You can’t just ask your audience what they want, but you can tell what they need, what they might be willing to invest in, and you can MAKE that. Then, like in the case of Leonardo da Vinci, you will have people marvel at your works and go “Wow, that’s pretty cool. Thanks!”
So when your friends, your family, or others, or even yourself, wonder “can you make a business online that will let you live anywhere?” You know the answer…
Yes, I can.
But you also know it’s a lot of hard work, and will take skill, determination, and hustle to get there. This isn’t get rich quick, this is get rich by putting in the effort and the work. By building an audience around what you are, what you believe, and investing your time and effort in making OTHERS successful. And finally, by claiming some of that value you create for yourself, through selling the things that your audience needs to feel better about themselves and improve their lives.
This is the journey I’m on. If you walk with me, I’ll share my experiences with you, and help you get to where you want to go faster.