There is a ton of misinformation about online business that is commonly accepted. While I'm sure your dad, mom, or society's intentions are good, you shouldn't take advice about something from people who know nothing about it. Especially since the biggest advice-givers tend to know the least about it, partially due to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
So here are a few bullshit theories about online business that you may have been exposed to:
10) "It's Impossible and It's a Scam"
The worst scam is telling people everything is a scam
You have probably heard some people say that internet marketers and online businesses (and any other businesses they don't understand) are all a scam. Amazon? Scam. Online education? Scam. The legal system? Scam. Finance and banking? Ok, maybe just that one.
Most people who think making money online is impossible, think so because they clicked some ad once that said "Make $10,000 tomorrow with my product" and (surprise) it didn't work out.
The internet is like any other marketplace, in that deceptive ads and bad products are possible, just like in magazines or even TV ads. The key difference is in the potential of what DOES work. Just because the internet isn't immune to scams doesn't mean it's "all a scam".
9) "The Best Product / Person Wins"
If the best product wins, the Nintendo 64 would still be on top
Successful business are most often those who have concentrated on marketing, selling, and updating the product. This means it is NOT always the "best" product that wins the market share.
Successful entrepreneurs are most often those strong in marketing and selling, and who have the strongest desire to learn and improve (not the best product).
Although you definitely want to start with, and focus much of your energy on, your product-quality, factors that often prove to be more valuable include your:
- sales funnel sequence
- marketing plan
- team cohesiveness
- market research & experiments
- budget and outside investments
- outsourcing and automation
- e-mail and follow-up sequence
- customer service
This is NOT to say that you should sell shitty products and just learn how to market really well, because this will lead you to plummeting sales or to deservedly be labeled a scammer.
Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not product. Marketing is the process of dealing with those perceptions.
Al Ries & Jack Trout
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
8) "Making Millions Online is Quick and Easy"
You've likely read an online ad at some point that read something like "Start an online business quick and easy!" Here's a question, why do you think that advertisement said that? The answer is because that phrasing sells product. You know what doesn't sell? Telling people starting an online business will take time, effort, learning, commitment, and sacrificing your weekends and nights out.
You will have to learn. You will have to read. You will have to be (or get) curious about business, invest in your education, and familiarize yourself with new tools and processes.
The good news is that much of this can be learned "on the go" or as you progress through your business. However, some things you'll want to research and learn more about beforehand include:
- websites & landing pages
- (online) sales funnels
- content creation
- sales & marketing
- hiring (eventually)
- and others as relevant to your business
To summarize, is making money online simple? Eventually. Is it reasonably learnable? Yes. Is it fast? It can be, but you shouldn't make speed your #1 priority. Is it easy? Like any new skill, it gets much easier with practice and experience. The main benefit is the massive upside of selling online.
7) "You Have to be an Expert / Genius to Start"
Insert mis-attributed quote here
"You can only start an online business if you're a computer genius" and similar excuse phrases are generally code for "I'm too lazy to try something new, so I'll make up a flimsy and easily-disprovable claim which excuses me from making any effort."
The truth is that you don't need a college degree, or rich parents, or to be born after 2000, or whatever, to make money online or start an online business. However, what you do need is self-direction, determination and the willingness to research, experiment, learn, and learn some more.
If you read and understand the top 3 books on anything, you will know more about the topic than 80% of the interested market.
The 4-Hour Workweek
Reading a few books may be all it takes to kick-start you into becoming this mini-expert over most people and creating your first digital information product.
For this example, you do NOT have to be the global expert to create or sell products that genuinely help your customers, you just need to be one step ahead of where they are. There's even a good argument that says it's BETTER to have recently been where your customer is, to relate.
Some online entrepreneurs find success by diving right in and figuring things out as they go. Keep in mind "learning as you go" involves more costly mistakes and more running into walls.
Remember how hard you'd study during finals week? If you can study half that hard to learn online business, then you're in great shape. And an online business will get you financial freedom and location-independence, as opposed to school exams, which got you grades (aka nothing).
6) "It's Takes a lot of Money to Get Started"
Considering hiring an agency? You'll need this
If your nay-sayers do indeed believe online income is possible, they may also tell you that it takes a ton of money to start. This couldn't be more wrong.
"It's too expensive": To address the high-startup-cost rumor, of course you will eventually need to spend more than $1 on something. Who would’ve thought that an abundant business market, an expanding opportunity, and an entrepreneurial lifestyle would require some investment?
Internet businesses are low-cost to start, so there's nothing keeping you from simply starting over.
At a minimum you will likely need a website which start out costing less than $100/year to operate, and additional such business components as you grow. A website-builder may be another $200/year, business address may be another $200/year, e-mail marketing services, and so on.
As you and your business grow, you will come to require professional (paid) tools for email marketing, automation, building websites, market research, and more. You will buy these tools to save you time and money, as well because they bring in a lot more money than they cost.
So does making money online cost nothing? No, but you can get started cheaply and gradually, and can eventually write-off most of your business expenses. For the first time in history, you can literally build a business for less than $1,000/year from your desk. Try starting a restaurant for that.
5) "Just Follow Your Passion"
He looks happy
You’ve likely been told throughout your life that following your passion is the key to your success and ever-lasting happiness. While pursuing your interests will definitely bring some joy to your daily life, you must accept that this does NOT mean your passion will bring you money.
If everyone did what they loved, then tons of people would eat fast food, play with dogs, watch TV, and post selfies all day. While many people DO do those things, 99% of them aren't paid to.
The undeniable problems with "following your passion" are:
1) there may be no market for your passion (of turtle’s-foot lucky charms)
2) studies show you enjoy your passions less once it becomes "work"
3) your passions change. Often (I'd guess around every 3 years, but this can vary)
Your passions from 3 years ago are different that your passions today, and many people believe admitting their passions changed is "quitting", which couldn't be less true.
[Success] doesn't care about your education, your school, your network, hard work, being passionate, or "doing what you love"...It's a dark, deserted, unpaved road strewn with potholes that force change and evolution.
The Millionaire Fastlane
Now consider instead starting an online business in a niche that has proven to sell, that you are NOT at all passionate about. After maybe two years of experimenting and growing the business, it provides you with a livable income or at the very least, the skills to launch another product.
If what sells happens to line up with your passions, then great, but the important thing is to start with a buying market. Although “what sells” may also change, your passions will change faster.
4) General Hater Bullshit
Misery loves company. So does mediocrity. Understand that 95% of society will never create and live the life they really want. This will include your friends, family, and peers.
The Miracle Morning
If you are over 10 years old and have ever told people you plan to start a business, then you already know that
many most people will respond with under-handed remarks that sound a lot like:
"Isn't someone doing that already?"
"I heard/know someone that had a bad experience doing that"
"Sounds expensive. What if you lose all your money?"
"That sounds kind of hard. Let's just have a beer and watch the game"
There are many variations to these responses, but they all have the primary intent of convincing you to no longer pursue your goal. None of them are true, and all of these responses are just code for "please stop exposing my bad habits and choices." Some say it's masked concern but I don't buy that.
An Inconvenient Truth: It is absolutely true that people will discourage you from pursuing a goal, if they themselves don't have the courage to do it, or if they have failed in a similar effort before.
Realize that your own friends and family are bound to make up the 95%+ of people that generally want to see you do well, just not better than them. Don't blame them, it's human nature. Don't be offended or surprised when these “hater” types reveal themselves around your success. Expect them.
Internet businesses break the traditional mold for the better, but prepare for the world to continuously advise you to go back to your "real job", even if you hated it, and EVEN AFTER your internet business is making you more money, allows you to travel, and makes you happier.
"That would never work in the real world." You hear it all the time when you tell people about a fresh idea. The real world sounds like an awful place to live; where new ideas, unfamiliar approaches, and foreign concepts always lose, even when the existing ones are flawed.
Scratch the surface and you'll find these "real world" inhabitants are filled with pessimism. They expect fresh ideas to fail and, even worse, they want to drag others down into their tomb.
If you're hopeful and ambitious, they'll try to convince you your ideas are impossible. They'll say you're wasting your time. That world may be real for them. The "real world" isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.
Jason Fried and David Hansson
3) "Your Mailing List is Everything"
If you’re familiar with online business at all, you have probably heard about “building your email list.” You've probably also read somewhere that “your list size is everything” or that “your list size means nothing.” Both are wrong, but they both make some valid points.
Most online businesses run primarily through their website. As organic and paid web traffic arrives, these websites present visitors with the option to “opt-in” or subscribe for more information.
This email (lead) list gives you a self-selected group of potential buyers to market to.
Your list is the biggest and perhaps ONLY asset in your online business.
Back to the does-size-matter question, you're understandably going to hate me for this answer but it truly does depend on your business type, however with a gun to my head, I'd choose a large list over a small one, since you can technically always cut a list down.
The essence of email list-size is that quality matters much more than quantity. Of course, in a perfect world, you'd want both, but quality is what you’re looking for here, of the two.
If you’re selling tennis equipment, it doesn’t matter if you have a list of 1 million tap-dancers. However, a list of only 500 highly passionate tennis enthusiasts is much more valuable to you.
So does list-size matter? Technically, yes, but so does list-quality. On top of that, many marketers have learned to sell products "with no list" as you can easily find around the web.
While email has undoubtedly been the heavy-weight online marketing tool of the last decade, new marketing channels are being developed every day that seek to avoid the email bottleneck.
2) "Outsource Everything Immediately"
Outsourcing is just a standard business process
Here is another double-edged sword, where it is trendy to claim either extreme on the issue of outsourcing.Those who say you should outsource everything today assume that you will inevitably get busier, so if you're going to outsource tasks anyway, you’re best off starting as soon as possible.
Some reasons against outsourcing everything immediately:
- You may not need or want to, since many online businesses are one-person
- Learning how to do every part of your business (at first and to a degree) will benefit you
- Online businesses become automatable as they grow, requiring less work from manpower
There are only positives in learning the different aspects of your business before outsourcing them. Plus, it literally IS your business to learn about all its components.
You Will Outsource
That being said, you will likely outsource some part of your online business eventually. Once your business is up and running, it will no longer be worth your time to do tasks which are:
2) and easily outsourcable with minimal “drop-off” in quality
From a logical standpoint, the reason you put in all that work in the first place was to build your first business. You likely wanted to start this first business to reap the many benefits of being an entrepreneur such as schedule flexibility, income growth, location independence, and automation.
You are not being lazy or "killing jobs" by outsourcing your business tasks, you're actually being extremely smart in passing off your weakest tasks, so that you can focus on what you do best.
The global workforce is expanding faster than we can keep up and it makes sense to hire overseas workers because of their skill sets and experience, rather than their lower rates.
The aim of outsourcing isn’t to simply offload work. It's about building an efficient, lean business that’s managed with a clear focus toward gaining you as much freedom as possible.
1) "Passive Income Is Your Only Goal"
Mobile income is much easier than passive income
First things first, laptops and beaches do not mix. The second half of the entrepreneurial advertisement is the popular concept of making money while not working, aka “passive income.”
Passive income is income that you earn without being actively involved, such as with rental properties, royalties, stock dividends, and automated sales systems. It involves (a lot of) unpaid up-front work to build a product or system, and then profiting without much more active daily work.
As with all income streams, passive income streams involve a significant amount of dedication and work, but the difference is that most of the work is done up-front, and unpaid obviously. However, if it is set up successfully, it can provide recurring income and a sharp decline in daily work hours.
Income as a Resource
If you think if income as something you can dig up, then "active income" a.k.a "a job" is like a shovel which you can immediately use to dig a small but predictable amount of money (dirt) from the Earth.
Passive income would be spending the time to build a machine or invention that would do the digging for you, or at least make it much easier with less effort.
It involves up-front work, which means that the shovel will start digging sooner, but once the machine is completed, the owner gets to sit back and let the machine dig for him.
At this point, you're probably wondering why the hell passive income shouldn't be your only goal, since it sounds so great. It's not that it shouldn't be a goal of yours, but there are several reasons why it maybe shouldn't be your main or only goal, and especially right from the beginning.
So, should passive income be your main goal? No, but it should be your second goal, which is your main financial goal. There will be times when you must shift your focus to more immediate goals that often don't line up with passive income philosophy, aka activities that "don't scale". This is ok.
The beauty of passive income is if your monthly income exceeds your monthly lifestyle expenses, congratulations, you're retired.
The Millionaire Fastlane